Vietnam Vet Says Dental Program Honoring Veterans with Free Care is ‘Probably’ First Honor for Serving

by Taylor Cunningham

Vietnam veteran, Larry Brown, returned from war nearly 50 years ago. But his homecoming was not the same as it was for soldiers of previous wars. Instead of returning to fanfare and cheers, he was met with anger and shame. But after five decades, a local dentist finally recognized Brown as a hero.

With 2021 being the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, one dentist from every state donated their time and resources to Smiles for America. Each participating dentist found a veteran who they believed showed extraordinary bravery and courage and gave them free dental work.

Derek Hoffman of Family and Implant Dentistry is the doctor who represented Nebraska. He interviewed veterans from all over the state, and he chose Larry Brown as his military hero.

“He is the epitome of what it means to be a Nebraskan,” Hoffman said. “And the sacrifices he gave to our country, he is very well-deserving.”

Brown’s dental work consisted of dental implants and veneers.

“It will not only look absolutely beautiful, it’ll be very functional,” Hoffman said per the Lincoln Journal-Star upon selecting Brown. “So he’ll have great teeth for the rest of his life.”

The veteran had needed work done for decades. But he’d heard that military dentists were a nightmare. So, while he was enlisted, he avoided them. Then when he came back to the states, the VA wouldn’t help him. And even though Brown admitted that he could have gotten the work done himself, he would have struggled with the cost.

But the free service isn’t the only thing that Brown was grateful for. He also appreciated the kind gesture all these years later.

“This is really, since I’ve been out of the service, probably the first nice thing that’s happened to me regarding my service to the country,” Brown said. “So I’m very excited. Very happy.”

Veterans Install Memorial At High School That Lost 10 Graduates to Vietnam War

Graduates from a Simi Valley High School who served in the Vietnam war met on their old football field to pay tribute to 10 fellow alumni who lost their lives in Vietnam.

The veterans paid tribute to their fallen soldiers on September 10th, just before the school’s Friday night football game. They wanted to recognize the soldier’s ultimate sacrifices because, with all the politics surrounding the war, no one did after they died over 50 years ago.

During the memorial, the school and veterans dedicated a flag pole to each fallen soldier.

“To bring a memorial together for Simi High alumni from decades past is all the more important,” said veteran Bruce Hellebrand. “Each of the flag poles will have a plaque mounted on them and each plaque has those ten names inscribed on them.”