Giving back to veterans: CU Heroes Clinic gives out smiles

“It’s special because you know how much they’ve sacrificed for you, and any way to give back makes me happy,” said CU School of Dental Medicine student Jackie Snapp

Question: A single father of two young girls, full-time worker and part-time student living in Aurora is told he needs $6,000 of dental work. In addition to the daily expenses, monthly bills and long-term investments for his daughters, winter is approaching and the father’s vehicle is less-than reliable in the snow. If the father’s income is less than infinite, solve for the father. Show your work.

Answer: Micah Marmaro knows firsthand.

CU Heroes Clinic

Clinical Instructor Heidi Tyrrell watches over as fourth year dental student Jackie Snapp completes her crown work Nov. 6 at the Colorado School of Dental Medicine on Anschutz Medical Campus. The clinic serves student veterans at the CU Denver and CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Delta Dental provided $1 million for the clinic in August, which has served more than 80 students since opening. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

CU Heroes Clinic

Marine veteran and CU Denver student Micah Marmaro gives a thumb up of approval Nov. 6 at the Colorado School of Dental Medicine on Anschutz Medical Campus. The clinic serves student veterans at the CU Denver and CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Delta Dental provided $1 million for the clinic in August, which has served more than 80 students since opening. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

CU Heroes Clinic

Air Force veteran and supervising dentist Dr. Al Sutton reviews fourth year dental student Jackie Snapp's work Nov. 6 at the Colorado School of Dental Medicine on Anschutz Medical Campus. The clinic serves student veterans at the CU Denver and CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Delta Dental provided $1 million for the clinic in August, which has served more than 80 students since opening. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

CU Heroes Clinic

Marine veteran and CU Denver student Micah Marmaro takes a selfie as he receives free dental care Nov. 6 at the Colorado School of Dental Medicine on Anschutz Medical Campus. The clinic serves student veterans at the CU Denver and CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Delta Dental provided $1 million for the clinic in August, which has served more than 80 students since opening. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

When a routine visit to the dentist uncovered thousands of dollars he needed in dental work, it didn’t take long for Marmaro, a Marines veteran and finance student at University of Colorado Denver to understand that kind of impact to his bottom line.

“It’s huge, massive. It’s a huge help,” he plainly said. “I’m a single dad.” He needs a new car. He tries to do as much as he can with his daughters, but there’s just not much cash. “How do I pay for all that?”

Ever the finance student, Marmaro weighed all of his investment options: Finance the dental work and pay more later? Put the work off, save in the interim and hope it doesn’t get worse? Or do nothing?

After Delta Dental of Colorado contributed in August $1 million to the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine to help fund the CU Heroes Clinic, solving the problem for Marmaro became much easier. The clinic helps CU Denver and CU Anschutz Medical Campus military veteran students by paying for restorative, and sometimes major, dental work. The dental school contributes diagnostic and preventative work for the CU Heroes Clinic.

Since beginning in August, the clinic has helped 84 students who formerly served in the military.

Marmaro was deployed in Iraq from fall 2005 to the following spring. He served for four years in the U.S. Marine Corps before moving to Aurora to help raise his daughters and go to school himself.

Fourth-year dental students work on the military veterans under supervision of dentists at the school. Jackie Snapp, a fourth-year student at the dental school, repaired a crown for Marmaro on Nov. 6.

“It’s special because you know how much they’ve sacrificed for you, and any way to give back makes me happy,” she said. Snapp has worked on a few veteran students and said the CU Heroes Clinic is a small way she can show her gratitude for their service.

Dr. Douglas Wilson, associate professor of restorative dentistry at the dental school and 30-year Air Force veteran, said the clinic goes beyond drilling and filling.

“It’s given some of our student vets the confidence to go out there and interview for their jobs,” he said. “After 30 years, it was hard to go cold turkey, so to see that satisfaction for those guys is important to me.”

Marmaro heard about the program through CU Denver Anschutz Medical Campus Office of Veteran Student Services when it announced the grant from Delta Dental. Marmaro participates in the school’s “Boots to Suits” program that places student veterans with mentors in businesses. Through that program, Marmaro was fitted for a new suit.

“Now I have the smile to match it,” he said in between drilling. “I think I actually get better care here. Because you have two to three people looking at your records, quizzing the person who’s doing it … and it has to be reviewed constantly. And there are some incredibly talented people with great experience doing it.”

Snapp was equally grateful.

“To think that someone like this would put their life on the line — for someone like me who they don’t even know — to protect my rights and my freedoms. This is just a small way we can thank them,” she said.

Comments are closed.