PASCAGOULA, Miss. – Precommissioning unit (PCU) Makin Island (LHD 8) concluded dental health month in August with briefings from Tricare dental program representatives for crew members located in Pascagoula and San Diego, Calif.
Makin Island’s Health Council met in January and decided to focus on various topics throughout the year and selected August to highlight the importance of dental health for Sailors and their family members.
Tricare manager of benefit relations, Rich Panepinto, gave a brief in Pascagoula and said he hopes Sailors left the discussion with plenty of knowledge of the Tricare system as it was important information for them to take away.
“There were a lot of great questions posed by the Sailors today,” Panepinto said. “However, I want to make sure that they understand that in order to receive Tricare benefits, they must enroll in the program.”
Engineman 1st Class (SW) Jevaras Barber attended the brief, and felt the instructor was very knowledgeable and put out a lot of important information.
“I learned that it’s important to do your research prior to going to the dentist,” Barber said. “You have to make sure that your dentist honors Tricare because it will save you a lot of heartache in the long run.”
Panepinto added, “If Sailors are enrolled in the program they need to take advantage of the services. It will save you time and money if you use the free cleanings and exams, instead of going to the dentist once your teeth start hurting.”
The Tricare briefings were just a part of the events that Makin Island dental department personnel organized. They also created informative display boards, added oral hygiene tips to the ship’s plan-of-the-day notes and contacted various organizations for brochures, pamphlets and samples.
“Practicing good oral hygiene is the best weapon in preventing tooth decay and gum disease,” Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW/AW) Laura Mack said. “Every crew member’s dental health contributes to our ship’s overall readiness for Makin Island’s mission capability.”
Sailors, who are in their nine to 12-month negotiating window for orders and want to be part of the pre-commissioning command, can contact their rating detailer and ask to be released to the pre-commissioning detailer for further assignment to Makin Island.