Sailor helping a Sailor: Local veteran receives gift of a new smile

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Travis Arrington served our country for 29 years and was deployed nine times.

"I've seen and experienced a lot of things, and this is the first time in my life I've had something like this happen to me," said Arrington.

Navy veterans Travis Arrington and Dr. Jamiah Dawson

Putting his life on the line for our country while in the Navy meant his personal dental care had to take a pause.

"So, I came in a few weeks back basically to get a partial repair, and the dentist said, 'Would you want to change your smile?'" explained Arrington.

Arrington had no idea that his entire smile would soon get a much-needed makeover.

"She was like, 'What if we could do this for free? and I was like, 'You can't be serious...you are playing with me!'" said Arrington.

Early Monday morning, Arrington arrived at the office of Dr. Jamiah Dawson, who is a Navy Veteran herself. More importantly, she was a Navy dentist.

"I honestly jumped at the opportunity to offer a vet a gift from a vet on Veterans Day. it's just been overwhelming," said Dr. Dawson, who is the head of Affordable Dentures and Implants in Newport News.

"This smile will bring back that swagger," said Arrington as he settled into what is usually a dreaded dentist chair.

Donations provided Arrington with $25,000 worth of reconstructive work and implants.

"This is the kindest thing someone has done for me. I feel so humbled," said Arrington.

Arrington spent a quick three hours in the chair only to receive a brand-new smile.

"I love smiling, and this helps get his confidence back. It's like we gave him his gold star today," said Dr. Dawson.

Dawson said in order for military veterans to qualify for full VA benefits, they must be 100% disabled, have been a prisoner of war or have developed a dental condition during their service.

"I know all about these limitations having served my country myself. It's just hard to do all this with deployment."

Dawson also gave the gift of a smile to two other veterans on Monday.

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