MANSFIELD -- Third Street Family Health Services celebrated Veterans Day early this year by free dental services to area service members Tuesday.
Veterans received an exam, x-rays and a cleaning at no cost. There was also free blood pressure and glucose testing available.
“We want to support those who have given a lot for this country, to make sure they have access to care," said Peggy Anderson, Third Street president and CEO.
There were 41 veterans registered on Tuesday, but dental practice manager Brandon Collins said Third Street will continue providing no-cost dental care to veterans at its three dental care sites throughout the week.
Third Street began hosting its Veterans Day event in 2015. Prior to COVID-19, veterans also got a free meal during the event.
This year, MVP Sports Bar Grille offered to match funds from Third Street to provide each veteran with a $50 gift card. Veterans also received a free t-shirt.
“We were excited to be able to give out hopefully about $5,000 worth of free food to veterans today,” Collins said.
In the past, veterans organizations in the community have helped sponsor the event with donations. This year, Third Street had enough in its budget to offer the event without outside funding.
Instead, some organizations are helping veterans with the cost of follow-up care.
“The Legion in Lexington is going to donate a set of dentures for a dental patient,” Collins said.
Next year, Third Street hopes to expand the event with more services, outside food vendors and prizes.
“In the past, it’s been a dental-focused, dental-centric event,” Collins said. “But Third Street’s mission right now is we want to be one Third Street. We want it to be a global thing with the entire organization involved.
"Next year, we’re going to add more departments and have everybody participate.”
Vietnam veteran Michael Viers attended the event for the third year in a row. He said he appreciated the service he received.
“It’s great. Everybody is friendly over here and happy it seems like," he said. "It feels good.”
Anderson said she hopes veterans who need additional care leave more aware of the resources Third Street has to offer.
“We want to make sure that our veterans not only get the care today or tomorrow that they may need, but that they know that there's a place for them to come regularly,” she said.