ODs serve those who serve the country—on Veterans Day and beyond

ODs serve those who serve the country—on Veterans Day and beyond

Kristi K. Davis, O.D., and her father Jim Patten, a Marine Corps veteran. Dr. Davis is providing free eye care to veterans during the entire month of November.

Kristi K. Davis, O.D., who practices in Redding, California, wanted to do something special this year to serve the nation's veterans.

"I appreciate the people who have given us this freedom."

As an active member of her local Rotary Club, part of her practice's community service is vocational service. "I feel like the veterans of our country are underserved as a whole," Dr. Davis says. "With Veterans Day coming up, I thought it was the perfect time to give back."

Dr. Davis decided to provide free eye care to veterans during the entire month of November.

American war veterans experience a variety of health-related eye and vision issues. On this Veterans Day, the AOA wants to remind its members of the importance of providing essential eye care to this population.

This year, the AOA did its part to serve American veterans, participating in the 115th Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Convention in St. Louis, Missouri. It was the 11th year the AOA provided no-cost eye health and vision assessments to American veterans as part of the VFW Health Fair.

Dr. Davis' story is one among many that illustrate the rewards of providing eye care to a population in need.

A day? Make it a month
At first, Dr. Davis thought of doing exams for just one day, but she questioned whether a day would make much of an impact. "I decided to 'go big' and offer free comprehensive eye exams to any veteran all month long," she says.

She approached her staff, wondering how they'd react to the extra work. "Instead of talking me out of it, they were 100 percent behind it," she says. "I'm so appreciative of their dedication and willingness to give back."

Not all veterans are eligible for VA eye exams. Dr. Davis wanted to fill that gap not just with basic screenings, but by providing a comprehensive eye exam.

"Many veterans are over the age of 60, which makes them more at risk for things like cataracts, diabetes, high blood pressure, macular degeneration and glaucoma," she says.

In a local television interview, Dr. Davis explained how her father, who served as a marine in the Vietnam War, played a role in providing free eye care to veterans. She has a special place in her heart for veterans. "I appreciate the people who have given us this freedom" in America, she said.

As of this story's publication, she had already seen four veterans for exams. "Word is getting out, and our phones are really beginning to ring."

While it's difficult to predict how many more veterans she'll see this month, the overall response from her community has been very positive, she says. She hopes to make this month of service a yearly tradition for her practice.

Photography by West Coast Innovations

November 10, 2014

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