Approximately 30 years ago, the American Red Cross and Fort Hood Dental Command Dental Assistant Training Program was implemented across all branches of the military to help military spouses obtain a career that would be transferable to any location. The minimum requirements to enter the program are having a military identification card, being over 18 years of age and being a high school graduate. Participants are generally military spouses or military children.
This past May, eleven students received their program certificates at the Billy Johnson Education Building while participating in a graduation ceremony. Col. Michael Garvin, DENTAC commander said that the graduation marked months of dedication to learning while balancing family life. “Each participant served their nation just as much as anyone wearing a military uniform, through their dedication to an entirely voluntary role,” said Garvin.
The program consists of 900 hours of training over a course of nine months, most of which takes place at dental clinics housed on Fort Hood. Most participants find out about the program through word-of-mouth. Yaneth Morgan, a military spouse said that she learned about it through a friend a few years ago but the program was too expensive at the time. This year she holds a certificate in her hand and has begun applying to children’s clinics because she loves working with kids.
Col. John Moody, officer-in-charge of the dental assistant training program spoke to the graduates during the ceremony and encouraged them to continue their education and use their certificates as a stepping stone. He commended them on their accomplishment but told them to continue to learn everything they can because “learning is a never-ending” process.
The dental assistant program prepares students for employment in a variety of settings. Gail Pierce, dental chairman for the American Red Cross said that dental assistants are used all over the world, which allows graduates to obtain employment just about anywhere they go.