Dentist to Iraq

By: Michelle Smith
By: Michelle Smith

One of the things that makes dealing with the war easier on those who have to go to Iraq is the support they receive back here at home.

Dr. Stephen Paulette is a oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Harrisonburg. He's leaving the life of novacaine and drills and he's headed to a world of bombs and war heads. Dr. Paulette is a naval reservist who's part of a medical team headed to the Middle East to help treat injured soldiers.

Dr. Paulette says, "There's a sense of patriotism. That's why I joined the reserves. But there's also a concern, a fear. But his biggest fear isn't his trip to Iraq - it's what he's leaving behind.

Dr Paulette and his wife own a dental practice in town and, when he leaves, so does half the money and treatment. Their office could lose up to $5,000 a day and more than $50,000 a month.

"The concern is that the practice would suffer significantly from that standpoint," says Dr. Paulette. "Plus the care we deliver to our patients would be decreased.

"We have a huge staff," says Paulette's wife, Dr. Kathryn Biery-Paulette, "and several doctors here and it impacts everybody.

But their fears were soon put at ease. What happened next is the amazing part; support from other dentists in the community was immense.

“We got on the phone and called one or two," said Dr. Paulette, "and before we knew it I had 10 to 15 who were willing to come into the area."

Dr. Whitney has an office right here in Harrisonburg and what touches Dr. Paulette about the situation the most is that Dr. Whitney is a competing dentist who's giving up his time to step in and help in a time of need.

"To have all these guys step in and take time from their practices, it's a sacrifice on their part it's really gratifying," says Paulette.

They're all big teddy bears to me," says his wife. "They're protecting my girls and my kids and my husband so, it's wonderful."

Dr. Paullette doesn't know yet when he leaves for the Middle East, but he says it could be any day now.


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