david e. mccracken
U.S. Army (Ret.)
Veteran Smiles Foundation
David grew up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania, milking cows twice a day. When it was time for him to choose between full-time employment on the farm or the United States Military Academy, David knew the time had come to leave his farm days behind. He would soon discover that the work ethic, core values, and commitment to excellence he learned on the farm would be crucial to building what would become a nearly three-decade career in service to his country.
Initially commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, David completed Special Forces training and was assigned to the Canal Zone with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) for his five-year commitment. From there, his expertise carried him to a second tour in Panama, multiple staff officer tours in the National Capital Region, and more. David rose to the rank of commander of the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) and won several awards, including the Combat Infantryman Badge. He was also named a Distinguished Member of the 1st Special Forces Regiment.
After retiring from service, David became more involved in his local veteran community. In developing these relationships, he learned that only 8% of veterans qualify for dental care under the Veterans Administration. With the help of a friend, David founded the The Veteran Smiles Foundation in 2018: an organization that provides veterans in North Carolina with the quality dental care they deserve. The program partners with East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine, and in just five years, has expanded into three other centers in the state to help serve a broader group of veterans.
Once a veteran agrees to a care plan with the clinic director, the Veteran Smiles Foundation commits to covering the cost. "100% of all donations we receive go directly into a veteran's mouth," David says, "Every single cent goes towards helping someone." In 2022 alone, the foundation provided 93 veterans with dental care; but that's not enough for David. With more support, he hopes veterans in every state can receive the dental procedures they need to once again smile with confidence.
Learn more about how the Veteran Smiles Foundation is giving veterans their smiles back at https://vetsmiles.org.
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