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Wolverine Patriot Project – Serving Those Who Served

October 23, 2012

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“Football coaches Brady Hoke and Mark Dantonio are going head to head in a heated competition – and The Ticker already knows who will win: homeless military veterans in northern Michigan” stated in an article titled “Big Ten Battle for Homeless Veterans” in the Ticker News. The article was broadcast on the Big Ten Network and was also sent out in a school-wide email to raise money for the Patriot Place, a center in Gaylord, Michigan that serves homeless veterans. It was this e-mail that inspired me to get more involved with aiding veterans. There are many homeless veterans that are 200% below the poverty level and in need of some kind of dental care. That’s where the “Wolverine Patriot Community Outreach Program” comes in.

The University of Michigan School of Dentistry participates in 32 community-based dental clinics throughout Michigan. In the last seven years over 100,000 patients have been treated and over 200,000 procedures have been done. With University of Michigan’s extensive background in community outreach programs, we thought it would be worthwhile to focus our project’s efforts on homeless military veterans. Being geographically central to northern Michigan and having easy access to I-75 for veterans, Gaylord was chosen to be the home for this clinic.

While attending the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, each student must choose a pathway to be a part of. They have the option to choose Research, Healthcare Delivery, or Leadership.  With each one having their own perks, they all have one thing in common. They all require a project to be completed throughout your four years attending the dental school. You can collaborate with other students that are not within the same pathway to complete this project. This is exactly what we have done in creating the “Wolverine Patriot Community Outreach Program.”

The Wolverine Patriot Community Outreach Program, under the direction of Dr. Bill Piskorowski, consists of: Ameen Shahnam, Kevin Goles, Tony Guinn, Mariam Dinkha, and myself, Jesse Edwards III. Each of us has our own personal reasons for taking part in this project. However, we all have the common goal of providing care to military veterans. The mission of the program is to enhance student education while providing care to disabled and homeless military veterans. Our primary focus is to fulfill the dental needs of military veterans.

On October 11th we unveiled our project to the School of Dentistry – presenting to both students and faculty. The goal of the presentation was to get feedback on what we could do to improve the content of the presentation and also to improve the surveys that are going to be handed out to each veteran prior to their treatment. Overall, this was successful. We received positive feedback and a lot of interest from the student body. The students and faculty were able to see what twelve months of hard work looks like and what can be accomplished if we put our minds together.

On October 25, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. the Wolverine Patriot Project, part of The University of Michigan School of Dentistry’s Community-Based Dental Education, will unveil this pilot program.  We will present to local political leaders and community members that want to take part in this community outreach clinic. This event will be hosted by Drs. Jan and Ed Duski, at Duski Dentistry.  They have generously donated their clinic, staff, and materials to raise awareness for and provide dental care to those who have fought for our country. In the days following the unveiling of this program, the first veterans will be treated and will be given a thorough dental examination to determine their treatment needs.

With this project finally taking shape, we look forward to the future and what could become of it. As a veteran myself, I am honored to assist others who have so selflessly served our country to be reintroduced back into society.

Jesse Edwards is a D2 in the Leadership Pathway and a Veteran.

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