NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — A New Port Richey based nonprofit providing free dental care to veterans is now telling patients they have to look elsewhere.
SmileFaith provided charitable dental care to the community since 2009. The nonprofit is ending the "Veterans Dental Implant Program" and the "Veterans or Community General Dental Care" programs due to a lack of funding.
“Veterans do not get dental benefits from the VA by and large, and so we wanted to find a way to help those veterans that are struggling,” said Mike O'Carroll, Vice President of Operations for SmileFaith.
O'Carroll said after a lack of government funding and donations over the past four years, SmileFaith has been operating mostly out of pocket.
The I-Team received emails from veterans in the midst of care who were concerned about how they will finish procedures necessary to be able to chew. Some even still waiting on dental implants.
O'Carroll told ABC Action News around 22 patients currently in the programs impacted will have their work completed.
"We're committed to finishing up these patients," O'Carroll said. SmileFaith said they are working to reschedule appointments for patients as crowns and implants come in.
But for the foreseeable future, SmileFaith is not accepting new applications for the veterans programs.
O'Carroll and SmileFaith founder Tom Lane are both veterans.
"We have a heart for our fellow veterans, we have given and given until there's nothing left to give," said O'Carroll.