Veteran's Day is a perfect time for dental professionals to say "thank you" to their patients in the military. It will mean a lot to those who have served, and will also help develop strong patient relationships.
There's a picture in my family's Oklahoma lake cabin that used to spook me when I was a kid. It's one of those black and white photos where the eyes of the man in the picture seem to follow you. The cabin has two floors, with the bedrooms on the second floor. I'd always turn at the top of the stairs and look back at that picture and, sure enough, the man would be staring at me, every time. It was a creepy image as I turned the corner and headed toward bed.
As I got older, I learned that that wasn't just a creepy guy in the photo . . . it was actually my great-great-great grandfather in his Civil War uniform. I also learned that my grandpa was a World War II veteran who served in China building airstrips for Allied planes to use in their battles in the Pacific. His son (my dad) also served, in the Vietnam War.
I GOT TO THINKING ABOUT MY FAMILY'S MILITARY BACKGROUND when I was riding the Skylink at an airport recently. Riding with me were eight soldiers who were heading to training before being deployed to the Middle East. I thanked them for their service as they got off at their stop. It was a small gesture, but it's something that I’ve come to believe is very important because these are the men and women who protect my freedom to travel to a meeting in San Francisco or Boston or anywhere in between, and who ensure that we can continue to enjoy our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
As Veteran’s Day approaches, do you know who among your patients are veterans? I know from talking to my dad that it means a lot to him when people thank him for his service. Perhaps your practice could honor those patients who are veterans by simply thanking them when they come into your practice. Or, how about starting a “wall of fame” in your practice that honors your patients who have served our country?
I promise you’ll be blown away by the response you get from these men and women. A simple “thank you” goes a long way in their eyes and helps remind them that you care, not only about their oral health but also about them as human beings. A “wall of fame” will also show your patients without military ties that you care about those who have served.
HOW ABOUT YOU?ARE YOU A VETERAN? Do you share that information with your patients? Dentists and team members are always looking for ways to bond over shared life experiences, and being a veteran is a perfect way to do just that.
I never served in the military and I can't imagine the sacrifices made each day by these brave men and women around the world. As Americans, there are many things we can’t agree upon on a daily basis. However, we still have the freedom to voice our opinions and stand for what we believe in. We have that freedom because of those who serve and have served in our Armed Forces.
To me, Veterans Day should be like Valentine’s Day. It shouldn’t be for showing our emotions on just one day. We should show our appreciation every day of the year. To all of you veterans, thank you for your service and dedication, today and every day.