TAMPA, Fla. — As more and more of us remove our face masks, we’re getting to see more and more smiles while out and about. There is a new non-profit organization in Tampa that’s aiming to make sure our veterans are smiling the brightest.
“So we’ve been locked up for a long time, we’ve been covering our smiles, now it’s like we are reborn right, so let’s get those smiles healthy,” said dental hygienist and founder of Operation Combat Smilez Eurika Peebles.
Peebles came up with the idea for the organization during the pandemic.
“I was trying to figure out what is my purpose, I keep hearing about this purpose, what is that, what does that mean,” said Peebles.
Being a veteran herself, having served in the Air Force, she knew proper dental care is often lacking among her comrades.
“A lot of people do not come to get dental work done unless they are in pain, we want to do preventative, to keep them from getting in pain,” said Peebles.
So she thought why not bring the dentist chair to the veteran, and the next thing she knew, she had an office on wheels, saving vets time, money and stress.
“A lot of these services may be expensive, or proximity to the closest dentist, or not even knowing what you need or how to go about it,” said Air Force Reservist Darren Singleton.
Singleton climbed aboard the van on Tuesday for a teeth cleaning. It has everything you’d find in a normal dentist's office, just a little bit smaller quarters to move around in, but once you’re lying in the chair it’s all the same.
Peebles is even using the van to train students from Altierus Career College where she is an instructor. She is actively looking for Tampa Bay dentists to donate their own time and services to help her make trips throughout the Tampa Bay area.
“I have three dentists so far in my database but I need more, I need more,” said Peebles.
She may have traded in the fatigues for the white lab coat years ago, but deep down Peebles is always going to look out for her fellow servicemen and women.
“Whenever somebody, during a time that’s rough for everybody, thinks about what other people need that's an extremely honorable thing so I appreciate it,” said Singleton.
“Dentistry, I love it, I’ve been in it for a while, I’m good at it, so I think this is where I’m supposed to be, so I want to give back,” said Peebles.
For more information on Operation Combat Smilez or to make an appointment email Peebles at email@example.com.