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Smiles for Soldiers honors local veteran

Smiles for Soldiers
Posted at 12:38 PM, Nov 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 00:19:26-05

BOISE, Idaho — Whitewater Oral Surgery announced Thursday morning that Army veteran, Eric Olson is this year's Smiles for Soldiers recipient.

The program started last year after the doctors at Whitewater Oral Surgery talked with colleagues across the country with similar programs and decided they wanted to give back to veterans in the Treasure Valley. The program provides free oral surgery, giving the veterans a brand new smile, completely free of charge.

A dozen veterans applied to the program this year, but ultimately the doctors chose Eric Olson, an Army veteran from Nampa, for this free smile makeover.

Eric Olson

"It's a little overwhelming, to be honest," he said.

Olson will receive a procedure that costs $50,000 completely free of charge. He served in the army and was stationed in Kuwait and Afghanistan. While there he was involved in a bombing.

"That bombing is what sent him to Germany. He was in the hospital for the better part of three weeks with multiple injuries including the dental injuries that kind of led us to where we are now," Dr. Justin Hastings from Whitewater Oral Surgery said.

After returning from active duty, Olson found himself experiencing homelessness. Now, he has an apartment, a wife and two kids, one of them a three-week-old baby who's still in the hospital.

Olson said this surgery will help him with self-confidence and moving forward, "honestly I feel blessed that this happened so, it's a good feeling."