Lubbock is home to over 15,000 veterans, and in fact, Texas is among one of the top three states in the country with the largest population of veterans with over one million men and women who risked their lives to fight for our country. Unfortunately, a large portion of veterans in Texas lack health insurance and barely a third are even eligible. Dr. Robert Ioppolo with Hill & Ioppolo Oral and Facial Surgeons of Lubbock feels it is his duty to help the veterans and active soldiers in the Lubbock community by launching the second annual Smiles For Soldiers program, a charitable initiative that provides one recipient with a brand-new smile through full-arch restoration treatment, a $50,000 procedure, for free.
Dr. Ioppolo’s own service in the military sparked an idea to implement a program last year to help local heroes in the Lubbock community. He completed his dental and oral surgery training through the Army Health Professionals Scholarship Program, served nine years of active-duty, followed by four years in the Army reserves.
No one knows how impactful the Smiles For Soldiers program is more than last year’s veteran, Charles Martin. Serving seven years as an aircraft mechanic in the Air Force, he repaired and inspected military aircrafts in the U.S. and in Japan. Upon returning back to Lubbock, his teeth began to deteriorate quickly. They were decayed and falling out, and he dealt with sharp mouth pain daily. Since his full-arch restoration treatment, Charles can now smile big with his 11 grandchildren.
“It was such a pleasure to see Charles smile again,” Dr. Ioppolo said. “I am so passionate about this program because I couldn’t be more honored to give back and help another fellow soldier. I thank all of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed so much to serve our country.”
Since provisions of the ACA went into effect in 2014, the number of uninsured veterans dropped nationally. However, the expansion of health coverage for low-income families through the Medicade program did not expand to Texas. More than 72,000 Texas vets lack health insurance due to this—meaning Texas has the highest number of uninsured veterans in the nation.
The application period for the Smiles For Soldiers program opened September 18 and will run until October 18. Active soldiers and veterans in the community can apply at https://lubbockoralfacialsurgery.com/smilesforsoldiers. Program updates will be posted on their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/lubbockoralfacialsurgery/. Hill & Ioppolo Oral and Facial Surgeons are partnering with Dr. Tim Lesie, Clark Lab, and Nobel Implant Company for the procedure.