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A reason to smile: Alexandria dental office provides free care to veterans

Erick Nolting, the dentist at Alexandria Smiles, closed his office for the day on Thursday, Nov. 10 and offered services to veterans from the Eagle’s Healing Nest, free of charge. (Beth Leipholtz / Echo Press)1 / 2
Area students wrote cards and made drawings for the veterans receiving care at Alexandria Smiles. (Beth Leipholtz / Echo Press)2 / 2

Erick Nolting saw 10 patients at his Alexandria dental office on Thursday, Nov. 9, yet the bill for services amounted to nothing.

This is because Nolting, a doctor of dental surgery at Alexandria Smiles, closed his office for the day in order to see veterans, free of charge.

The veterans came from the Eagle's Healing Nest in Sauk Centre. The Eagle's Healing Nest is a nonprofit organization that works to meet the needs of veterans, service members and their families.

"We just decided this would be a good jump start (into doing more for veterans) and it would tie into Veterans Day," Nolting said. "So we're closing down the office for the day, getting them taken care of."

The office saw 10 veterans. For each, they did a new patient screening and cleaning, as well as any additional work needed.

Anton Kos, a veteran who served in the Vietnam war in the 1970s, says the services were appreciated.

"It's huge, especially for a guy like me on a fixed income," he said. "I need a lot of work done. It was a blessing."

Edwin Nelson, who also served in the 1970s, says the same.

"It's awesome," he said. "I wouldn't have been able to afford it otherwise."

In addition to receiving dental care, veterans also took home cards and drawings from local students.

"It's nice they (students) are a little bit aware of what people are sacrificing," Kos said.

The dental office aids veterans in other ways, too. It has a program for veterans returning from overseas. And, after each Halloween, the office's candy buyback program allows candy to be sent to troops stationed overseas.

Nolting says his passion for helping veterans is rooted in the fact that both his grandfathers served in World War II.

"I think there's always a need for veterans and they definitely should be taken care of," Nolting said.

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

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