Elks Lodge partners to help veterans with dental needs


Gonzales Elks Lodge 2413, in partnership with Community Health Centers of South Central Texas (CHCSCT), a community health center headquartered in Gonzales, and the Gonzales County Veterans Services Office, celebrates the commitment and bravery of our veterans — and the dedication of their families.

We know their courage does not end when the soldier returns to civilian life. For too many, the scars of battle are both physical and emotional. Elks Lodge 2413 is partnering with CHCSCT to improve the quality of life of Texas veterans and their families by supporting them through a Freedom grant donation of $2,500 for veterans who cannot afford dental care. Veterans will have access to health and wellness services through CHCSCT centers in Gonzales and surrounding areas.

Elks Lodge 2413 and Community Health Centers of South Texas recognize little has been done to re-engage our veterans in their wellness program related to oral health. Veterans are not entitled to dental care unless they are 100 percent disabled which results in personal and health setbacks.

An example of this need was given by Sharon Smith, executive assistant for the community health center, during the last Freedom grant cycle. Sharon was contacted by a veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He stated that he was unable to sleep or eat for days due to an abscessed tooth.

This veteran was not entitled to VA dental care because it is not a service-connected disability. He was already in debt to a dentist and could not be seen until he was current on his fees. Because of his disability, he is unable to remain employed and has no income or insurance. He was served at the community health center using the Freedom grant funding.

The Gonzales County Veterans Service Officer will identify the veterans needing dental care, then will be referred to the Community Health Center for dental services and to identify oral health needs. The objective will be to identify 12 veterans who need dental care.

The partnership amongst Gonzales Elks Lodge 2413, Community Health Centers of South Central Texas, and the County Veterans Office through the Freedom Grant Program has offered dental services to veterans every year since 2016.