NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — A New Port Richey-based nonprofit that provides free dental care to veterans is now telling patients they need to look elsewhere.
SmileFaith has provided charitable dental care to the community since 2009. The nonprofit organization is ending the Veterans Dental Implant Program and Veterans or Community General Dental Care programs due to lack of funding.
“Veterans don’t receive dental benefits from the VA to be expanded, so we wanted to find a way to help struggling veterans,” said Mike O’Carroll, vice president of operations for SmileFaith.
O’Carroll said that after a lack of government funding and donations over the past four years, SmileFaith was mostly operating out of pocket.
The I-Team received emails from veterans in care who were concerned about how they would complete the procedures needed to be able to chew. Some are even still waiting for dental implants.
O’Carroll told ABC Action News that about 22 patients currently in affected programs will have their work completed.
“We are committed to completing these patients,” O’Carroll said. SmileFaith said they are working to reschedule patient appointments as crowns and implants arrive.
But for the foreseeable future, SmileFaith is not accepting new applications for veterans programs.
Both O’Carroll and SmileFaith founder Tom Lane are veterans.
“We have a heart for our fellow veterans, we gave and gave until there was nothing left to give,” O’Carroll said.