EVERETT — Randy Weisling had to stop working after hurting his back on the job. Then he lost his dental insurance.
He was a regular patient at All Smiles Northwest on Colby Avenue. On Friday, the dental office was decorated with balloons and American flags. Weisling, a retired Army reservist, saw his dentist for free that day.
The dental office provided cleanings, X-rays and other treatments at no cost to veterans as part of Freedom Day USA. Businesses participating in the national event offer services to veterans as a way to say, “thank you.”
All Smiles Northwest blocked out the entire day, leaving it open for veterans. Patients who needed a tooth pulled or a filling could stay longer to have it done.
It was a busy day.
A dental assistant from another office in town came to help. Dr. Michelle Steinhubel’s two teenage children restocked shelves and assisted her with exams.
“We just hustle,” Dr. Anthony Vuong said.
Steinhubel said there are too many veterans without access to medical or dental care.
One patient drove two and a half hours to Everett for his appointment Friday.
“The problem seems huge when you think about it, but here’s something we can do,” Steinhubel said.
All Smiles NW has participated in Freedom Day USA for two years, and about 20 patients were treated Friday. Many of their clients, as well as Steinhubel, have served in the military.
Weisling was an army reservist for six years in the 1980s. He was stationed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he taught people to shoot M16 rifles. He made sure they were ready in case they were called to war.
Weisling later retired from the reserve and moved to Everett. He has worked in construction as a carpenter and manager. He is currently wrapping up classes for his project manager certificate.
A back injury last summer halted his work. He struggled to sit still in the dental chair because of the pain.
Without Freedom Day, Weisling would have had to pay for his dental visit out of pocket.
“I’m really grateful. There’s not many services like this,” he said. “Bless their hearts for doing this.”
Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; firstname.lastname@example.org.