LUBBOCK, Texas — A surprise this morning with city leaders and friends left a U.S. Army Veteran, Jason Jones, speechless. 

“I’m just super grateful,” Jones said. “I really don’t have words.”

After struggles with PTSD that caused the veteran to smile less, his wife submitted an application to the Smiles for Soldiers program, hoping he would be selected. 

“I was nervous because I didn’t want to go through something and not get selected because you get a letting out a lot at the VA, you know?” asked Jones. “But I was really happy with the process here and grateful.”

Dr. Robert Ioppolo, an oral and facial surgeon at Hill and Ioppolo Oral & Dental Implant Surgery of Lubbock, said it isn’t always easy for veterans to get the dental care they need after their service. 

“In many cases, we find folks that… had a lot of good care done in the past, but the maintenance hasn’t been done, and therefore there’s some breakdown in some things that we need to help to get the veteran back on track,” Dr. Ioppolo said. 

For Dr. Ioppolo, who was also in the military, it’s a joy and an honor to give others who’ve served something so life-changing. 

“It never gets old; this is one of my very favorite things that we do all year in our practice,” said Dr. Ioppolo. “It does make a longtime, lifetime–I would say impact for somebody to have their smile back when they haven’t had it for a while.”

According to Jones, opportunities like this mean more than folks could ever know. 

“Sometimes we need a hand up, and I think that’s probably why it’s important for everybody to get involved, to give a veteran a hand up,” said Jones. “It can go a long way.”

The full arch restoration started today, and the entire process is expected to wrap up within the next four to six months. Until then, Jones said he’s soaking up every minute of this moment. 

“It’s a life changing deal for me,” Jones said. “It’s everything to me.”