Valley vet drilled in soldier’s dental health | News, Sports, Jobs

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Submitted image
Col. Donald Begezda, remaining, is shown in June 2005 as he is about to return house from his initially tour in Iraq. At proper is his alternative, Capt. Justin Tobias.

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EDITOR’S Take note: To recommend a veteran for this series, which operates weekly by way of Veterans Day, email Metro Editor Marly Reichert at

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POLAND — “I never know that there is anything heroic about currently being a dentist,” Dr. Donald Begezda said a short while ago.

However, hundreds of clients on each sides of the Atlantic may well disagree.

Begezda grew up on Hazelwood Avenue on Youngstown’s West Aspect, just a couple blocks from the Mahoning Avenue observe he took around from Dr. James Davidson, his childhood dentist.

“When I obtained out of the Army, he mentioned, ‘Come on in. I can use you,’” Begezda mentioned.

He joined the Army in 1979 just after graduating from The Ohio Point out College Higher education of Dentistry. He commenced as a scientific dental officer at Fort Jackson, S.C., treating largely fundamental trainees. He described this as a terrific learning encounter for a younger dentist. They came from “all more than the United States … and some from unique pieces of the region experienced never ever been to a dentist.”

In 1982, he required to start his personal observe but was hesitant about leaving the army, so he joined the Army Reserve. He claimed the month-to-month drills largely associated schooling dental assistants as very well as finding out how to run dental gear made for the battlefield, which requires the means to set it up and take it apart immediately.

In addition, a two-week tour took location once a yr, commonly at an lively base.

“We would display up at the dental clinic and the commander there would be anticipating us. They’d have a room for us, and we’d go to function there and do whatsoever they did at that distinct dental clinic–just see individuals and do dentistry,” Begezda stated.

In 2004, he was deployed to Iraq, where by he was the dental officer in demand at Forward Functioning Base Hazard in Tikrit. He downplayed the sum of peril he faced, but he claimed sometimes mortar assaults would appear near enough to shake the creating.

A person working day he and a medical doctor left the dining hall previously than standard to get back to the clinic. Although he was brushing his enamel he read several loud bangs. Enemy fire hit precisely where they experienced been going for walks just minutes just before. Alhtough no losses transpired, numerous troopers sustained injuries.

In 2009, Begezda had his second stint in Iraq, this time as deputy commander for medical solutions at Joint Foundation Balad. He explained this knowledge as currently being a very little calmer and reported he was part of a more settled and comprehensive professional medical facility.

Then in 2013, Begezda served as commander of the 912th Dental Organization Detachments in Afghanistan. He flew between hospitals at Bagram Air Force Foundation and Kandahar to make certain the dental clinics ran easily and effectively. He remembered looking down at a village isolated by mountains and wanting to know how they acquired food items and supplies. He also was responsible for triage in circumstance there had been so many casualties that he would have to “pitch in and aid sorting individuals,” which luckily did not happen when he was there.

Begezda described the nature of his do the job abroad as taking treatment of insignificant emergencies, this sort of as toothaches and free fillings, so troopers could return to energetic responsibility within a working day or two.

“My mission was dentistry. The other individuals have their mission, and we have to make sure they can proceed. The main purpose the dentist is there is to act as the individual who can maintain them from being eradicated from their position,” he reported.

In 2015, Begezda retired from the Reserves right after a armed forces job of 36 many years. Begezda explained his time in the Military as a optimistic working experience that gave him early hands-on education and authorized him room to increase as a skilled. He relished meeting people from all above the place and traveling to sites this sort of as Panama, Honduras, Belgium and Germany.

He stated he would recommend the army for younger dentists as a excellent way to start a vocation, as they can acquire information with no owning to purchase devices and lease an workplace.

“You have a lot of individuals who need to have a good deal of treatment. … I liked each and every moment of it,” Begezda said.

Dr. Donald Begezda

AGE: 67

Home: Poland

Services Branch: Military and Army Reserves

Armed forces HONORS: Legion of Advantage, Meritorious Support Medal, Military Commendation Medals, Army Accomplishment Medal, Pro Industry Health-related Badge

Profession: Dentist

Household: None

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