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Veterans Day 2018 – Chick-fil-A

In honor of Veteran’s Day, Arrowhead Chick-fil-A (16657 N 83rd Ave, Peoria, AZ 85382) and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 62 (9847 W Desert Cove Ave, Peoria, AZ 85345) teamed up to donate nearly $6,000 to “Smiles for Veterans”—a 501( c )3 non-profit organization that provides critical dental care for in-need veterans. This donation will expand the organization’s reach from southeastern Arizona into the Phoenix area.  The program is also an Arizona Qualified Charitable Organization which give donors a dollar for dollar credit on their Arizona State Tax Return of $400/individual and $800/married couple.

This is the fourth year that the two organizations have teamed up for veterans. In aggregate, they have donated over $15,000 to support Tucson Fisher House, Peoria’s Soldier’s Best Friend, Unit 62’s HEAL HER Art program and Smiles for Veterans. Arrowhead Chick-fil-A’s contribution has exceeded $10,000 over the four years.

“Arrowhead Chick-fil-A has not only donated 11% of sales from Veteran’s Day for the past four years, they have invited us into their restaurant to promote patriotism”, said Doris Theiss, President of Unit 62. Visitors to the restaurant received poppies and American Flags from Auxiliary volunteers. They also had the opportunity to view a table set up in remembrance of United States POW/MIA military personnel. “I saw a veteran stand before the table and say a prayer. Later he told me he had a war buddy who was missing in action”, said one of the volunteers.

“We work with the American Legion Auxiliary because they understand the local needs of veterans”, said Alison Bosen, Marketing Director at Arrowhead Chick-fil-A. MORE HERE?

“Smiles for Veterans” has identified retired and disabled veterans as an under-served population when it comes to obtaining critical dental care. The Veterans Administration provides limited dental services most low to no-cost care is aimed at single issue treatment such as teeth cleaning or single tooth extraction. Veterans suffering from illness or years of financial difficulty often have issues that cannot be cared for through these programs.  These are the circumstance that “Smiles for Veterans” targets. “We ask two questions of a veteran seeking our help: “Can you eat?” and “Are you in pain?”” explained Jan Christensen, Executive Director of Smiles for Veterans.

For example, Smiles for Veterans helped a Vietnam veteran who had been exposed to Agent Orange. The illness and cancer treatment had destroyed his teeth. He was saving $10 a month for dentures. With the help of the organization, he was able to once again enjoy his favorite foods– steak and cashews– before the cancer took his life a few years later.

“Smiles for Veterans” works to establish partnerships with dental providers to reduce the cost of service. For example, We can provide dentures to Veterans nationwide though our relationship with Affordable Dentures and we help facilitate “Day of Service” events for other national dental organization like Aspen Dental and Associated Dental.  We work with local reduced fee dental clinics offering sliding scale pricing and independent dentists and labs through our “Adopt-a-Vet” option.  And, there is a dental insurance option for our Medicare age Veterans which can sometimes be a lesser cost way of servicing their dental needs.

The average cost per Veteran in need of essential dental care is $1,200 and for dentures $800. “We hope to find local patriotic dental providers who will adopt-a-veteran or provide services at a reduced rate” said Ms. Christensen. “We know there are more veterans who need this care than there are dollars to help, so we need to stretch every penny as far as we can” she continued.

Ms. Christensen puts her money where her mouth is: Smiles for Veterans has no paid employees—she and her entire board of directors are volunteers. Administrative expenses are capped at $300 a month.