Several hundred veterans turned away due to overwhelming response to free dental clinic
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. —
Chattanooga-area veterans waited outside in 30-degree temperatures on Thursday for free dental care.
The Aspen Dental MouthMobile, which is traveling the country to support veterans, made a stop in Chattanooga.
But so many people called to make appointments, hundreds had to be turned away.
The Southeast Tennessee Veterans Coalition helped organize the event. Chairman Mickey McCamish says he's already lobbying to bring it back next year.
"The response has been overwhelming," said McCamish. "This just proves that the need is there and how bad dental care is needed."
Jo Schendel was able to secure an appointment.
She served in the U.S. Coast Guard for five years. but like many other veterans, she isn't eligible for dental care through the VA.
"I just can't afford the dental and they don't cover that for some reason," said Schendel.
She says it has been at least a couple of years since she has seen a dentist.
"Thank god for these guys because I would probably still be living with terrible teeth that hurt me all the time," said Schendel. "Most of us are either out of work or we make too much to qualify for Medicaid so we're hosed either way."
Dr. Ashley Boling with Aspen Dental told NewsChannel 9 veterans are an under-served population.
"It's sad that we're not able to serve our veterans better since they've put so much on the line for us," said Dr. Boling. "The main thing that we're doing is emergency work - it's not like people are coming in to get cosmetic work done. It's extractions: they've had broken teeth for several years. They're in pain."
This visit is the 7th of the Aspen Dental MouthMobile's 35-stop tour of the country.