NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A U.S. Navy veteran and dentist in Newport News wanted to do something special for a fellow veteran on Thursday.
She’s celebrated Veterans Day by giving the gift of a smile to a former U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer.
Johnathan Collins broke everything from his ankle to his jaw on the left side of his body while working as a rescue swimmer in the Coast Guard.
“A year and a half of surgeries, I was able to walk again, which is something that they did not anticipate originally,” he said. “I shattered my pelvis into 110 pieces.”
Even though he broke his jaw in several places, his oral health wasn’t a concern until several of his teeth had to be removed.
It’d normally cost thousands of dollars for dental implants, but Dr. Jamiah Dawson, a Navy veteran, made it her mission to give him the perfect smile he deserved.
“It’s been my passion since I was 5 years old, and to know that there are people out there that can’t get this treatment from the VA,” she said. “They can’t get this treatment on their own.”
She worked for over a decade in the Navy performing dental procedures on personnel in the Navy and Marines.
She’s since moved on to a private practice, but makes it her mission to help fellow veterans when she can.
“For me to be able to feel so good about Veterans Day and giving back and helping a, helping a veteran smile, makes me smile. I love it,” she said.
After hours of surgery to prepare for the implants, the time came for Collins to see his new smile, all thanks to the help of a fellow veteran.
“There’s a big community out there, but it’s the same experience and you’re part of a second family immediately,” he said.
Collins will be back at Dawson’s office in a few weeks for them to begin work securing his permanent implants on the top.
For now, he just has to heal and keep on smiling.