Thousands of veterans across the United States got free dental care Saturday as part of Aspen Dental's Day of Service. In San Antonio, Aspen Dental clinics were booked and for many veterans, it was their first dental checkup in years.
Navy veteran Jeffrey Altamirano hadn't had a dental checkup in over 20 years until Saturday.
"When I saw the link for Aspen, I knew I was already having dental problems with my teeth and I knew I needed to at least get seen to see what's going on," he said.
He ended up getting two cracked teeth removed for free as part of Aspen Dental's Annual Day of Service. In all, 250 Aspen dental practices across the country, including three in San Antonio, offered free dental care Saturday to thousands of veterans.
"They gave us their time they served. It's hard for vets right now to get that dental assistance with the government, so we're here to help them where they can't get that help. We want to get that taken care of them for today," said Zoela Lopez of Aspen Dental.
Of the 21 million veterans in the United States, fewer than 10 million are enrolled for Veteran Affairs health benefits and more than 1.2 million lack health insurance altogether. Many veterans who do have VA health benefits aren't eligible for dental care benefits, including Jeffrey Altamirano.
"I still need a follow up," he said. "But this was a stepping stone for me."