Supporting veterans through AAIDF
The men and women who serve in our armed services do so with courage, dedication, and selflessness.
When they leave their military service, some veterans have injuries that can make it difficult to navigate the challenges of everyday life.
The AAID Foundation and corporate partner ZimVie launched the Smile, Veteran!™ program to give those who have served our country the opportunity meet with an AAID-credentialed dentist and receive dental implants at little to no cost.
Do you know a veteran who could benefit from the Smile, Veteran!™ program? Email email@example.com.
See how Dr. Edward Kusek, a credentialed member, volunteered to restore
How the AAIDF Gave Sgt. Mark Lottman the Gift of a Smile
In 2019, the AAID Foundation launched the Smile, Veteran!™ program to help those who have served our country with the opportunity to access and receive dental implant services. AAID staff recently had a chance to speak with Sgt. Mark Lottman, who successfully completed the program. Help us help more veterans like Sgt. Lottman, and make a tax-deductible donation today.
How did you hear about the Smile, Veteran™ program?
I heard about the program through my own dentist, Dr. Edward Kusek. I have been seeing Dr. Kusek for about 35 years. When he first started his practice in Sioux Falls, we were one of his first patients. He told me about the program, ushered me through the process, and even performed the procedures involved.
Can you share a little with us about your past in the Air Force?
I graduated high school in 1967 and immediately enlisted in the Air Force. I was inspired by my brother who was also a member of the armed services. Did some stateside and then was assigned to Thailand in the northeast corner -- Nakhon Phanom to be exact. It was about 60 miles from North Vietnam. While there I was part of the security police guarding the perimeter of the base. Unfortunately during that time I was subject to Agent Orange exposure, and that resulted in some of the health problems I have that have directly impacted my teeth.
What impact did the procedures made possible by the Smile, Veteran™ program make in your life?
I didn’t smile for such a long time because I was afraid of showing my teeth. It has absolutely changed my life. I’m not afraid to eat what I want anymore. Before I was always nervous that I’d break a tooth, so I’d end up just eating soup or softer foods. Now I can eat whatever I want with confidence. I have more self-esteem. When I’m in public I can laugh at a joke and let people see my teeth. It shows people not only that I have a great smile, but a great sense of humor!
What else would you say about the Smile, Veteran program?
I hope that other dentists – even those who are not members of AAID – become aware of this program.
What about someone who might be afraid of getting a similar procedure?
Don’t be afraid. It’s a long process – mine took about 9 months – but the end result more than makes up for the time. You come away with a nice smile, and you feel a heck of a lot better.
Tell us more about your experience with Dr. Kusek.
As I mentioned, I have been seeing Dr. Kusek for the last 35 years and couldn’t be happier. He is very dedicated to what he does. He wants to do the job and do the job right. He feels good when he does a good job, and the patient feels good. It’s also a comfort to see that he’s working with the latest technology. He’s such a kind, caring dentist and I appreciate him.