What were all those Guard guys doing in Corydon?
Members of the Indiana National Guard’s Infantry Brigade have been coming to Corydon the past six weeks.
They weren’t here for military duty, but their visits were in preparation for active duty.
They came to see the dentist.
Dr. Terry McCooe, who served three years in the U.S. Navy and has been in the National Guard since 1981, contracted with the federal government to see 30 to 50 soldiers who are heading for Bosnia Saturday.
“There are no dental facilities over there,” McCooe said.
Since Nov. 15, his staff has been busy with periodontal cleanings, filling cavities and putting on temporary crowns. They finished their work — 43 patients later — on Dec. 27.
Up to $700 could be spent on each soldier to fix dental problems that could flare up in the next six months — the length of time the soldiers expect to be overseas.
“Of everyone we saw, 10 to 15 percent were dentally unqualified,” McCooe said, meaning that if the dental work had not been done, they could not have been deployed.
“A lot of time (soldiers) are dentally disqualified quicker than they are medically,” he said. “The dentist is not their favorite place to be. This gives them the chance to get (dental) work done that they might not have done otherwise.”
Dr. Mark Hall, who sees patients about twice a month at McCooe’s office, said he pulled some teeth and restored others, thus preventing some problems that could have made life miserable for the soldiers.
Janet Zimmerman, McCooe’s receptionist/assistant, said guard members who needed more extensive — and more costly — work were treated by Dr. James Humrighausen, who practices in Dr. John Mattingly’s office in Corydon, and Dr. Scott E. Schueler in New Albany. Both specialists underwrote the additional expense.
On Thursday, guard members came from as far away as Peru, Ind. (Miami County), Tell City and Richmond for dental work.
One of them is Ty Mercer, 25, Richmond, who got a temporary crown. He’s being deployed for the first time since he joined the guard seven years ago.
“It will be a good experience,” he said.
McCooe belongs to a military forensic team and DMRT (Disaster Mortuary Response Team), which is non-military. He was called upon to do forensic work in 1984 when an airliner crashed in a field near Rensselaer.
“I was the first dentist at the site,” he said, adding that they worked three days at a make-shift morgue in a National Guard Armory.
“I’m just so proud of him for what he does,” said Zimmerman.