Through service to their country and to Veterans, Dr. Dana Truesdale and Dr. Joshua A. Parry provide inspiration on Veterans’ Day and year round. For Dr. Truesdale, 44, of Baltimore, Maryland, that service includes a 2018 deployment in Afghanistan, where she treated trauma patients and led a team as Dental Officer in Command at Bagram Airforce Base. For Dr. Parry, 35, that service means founding “Operation Make a Vet Smile” and donating $18,000 of dentistry to underserved Veterans in western Pennsylvania.

What does all-hands-on-deck mean to Dr. Truesdale?

Today, Dr. Dana Truesdale provides comprehensive care for patients at her dental practice in Baltimore, Maryland, and serves her country as a Major in the U.S. Army National Guard. Just three years ago at this time, as a soldier deployed in Bagram, Afghanistan, she was in “all-hands-on-deck” care mode, providing treatment to trauma patients in the midst of gunfire and bombings.

“It was all-hands-on-deck. Sometimes I worked with cardiologists, sometimes with eye doctors. We were all in there reconstructing faces together, making sure patients were able to live. It was high intensity, an adrenaline rush. You don’t know who is trying to kill you, who is friend or foe. Being able to see everything, read people, caused me to grow up really, really fast.”

–Dr. Dana Truesdale, on her 2018 deployment in Bagram, Afghanistan, with the U.S. Army National Guard

“There were a lot of gunshot wounds to the face, a lot of traumas, a lot of bombings. Every day we got bombed and every day we would get hit with rockets. All night there is gunfire and rockets flying across the sky. Those things can land anywhere, so your head is always on a swivel.”

As as a soldier in the U.S. Army National Guard, some of her most life-changing experiences have taken place when everyone is united in the same mission, working as a team.

“Everybody came together. Whenever there is a situation, where there is a mass casualty, meaning they shoot one of our helicopters out of the sky or there is roadside bombing, we get a lot of patients in. Sometimes you have to put people in different places. You save who you can save first and then those who you don’t think will make it, well that was my responsibility….We were responsible for taking care of the expected, meaning we’re not expecting them to live.”
–Dr. Dana Truesdale, on her 2018 deployment in Bagram, Afghanistan, with the U.S. Army National Guard

What made Dr. Truesdale feel safe while deployed in Afghanistan?

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In 2020, Dr. Dana Truesdale was elevated to the rank of Major in the U.S. Army National Guard. (Submitted photo)

On her first day, while on a call with her staff back in Maryland at Innovation Dental Center in Baltimore, Dr. Truesdale heard a boom and felt the ground shake beneath her feet. A group of soldiers walking by explained that the bombing had occurred 60 yards away, less than the length of a football field.

“The soldiers are so brave. We had each other’s backs. We found peace and calm, knowing that everybody you were around would die for you. They would protect you to their death. I felt very safe there.”

Dr. Truesdale resides in Baltimore with husband Nijui Truesdale. Their children, Jenai and Austin, both 22, live in New Orleans. After completing a Bachelor’s of Science Degree from Dillard University of New Orleans in 1999, Dr. Truesdale earned a Doctorate of Dental Surgery degree from Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry in Nashville, Tennessee in 2004. She completed her General Practice Residency Program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi.

A charter member as a Sistah in Dentistry in the Association of Black Women Dentists (ABWD), Dr. Truesdale explains that early exposure and a desire to pay off student loans drew her to the military.

“The seeds were planted young. Both my parents were in the military. My mother (Claudette Abert) was in the ROTC, my father (Elton Abert) was in the Air Force. After dental school, my student loans exceeded $250,000 and it was taking forever to pay off….

Going in, I looked at it as just that. But once I got in,  it opened up the doors to a lot of possibilities. The leaders above me know I’m into politics, I just gravitate toward it. Whenever there are events, they want my face in the place.”
–Dr. Dana Truesdale, on her 2018 deployment in Bagram, Afghanistan, with the U.S. Army National Guard

How will Dr. Parry’s ‘Operation Make a Vet Smile’ help Veterans in 2022?

In 2019 Dr. Joshua Parry created an event to help provide underserved Veterans in the Pittsburgh area with donated dental care. In its inaugural year, “Operation Make a Vet Smile” donated $18,000 of dentistry, and Dr. Parry and the teams at Kraisinger Family Dentistry and Pittsburgh Facial Aesthetics have plans to increase that number exponentially in 2022.

“The first event was only held at 1 of our 4 locations, but for 2022 we are planning to involve all of our locations,” said Dr. Parry, who was recently honored with Incisal Edge magazine’s signature “40 Under 40″ award for young dentists.


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Dr. Joshua Parry in 2019 he created an event in to help provide Veterans in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with donated dental care. In its inaugural year, “Operation Make a Vet Smile” donated $18,000 of dentistry. (Submitted photo)

In the interim, the dental team has created new opportunities to supports the dental needs of underserved Veterans.

“At the event, we are mostly providing basic services, but since then, I and our associate dentists have all donated more complex treatments and entire treatment plans to several Veterans.”

Dr. Parry is a Greensburg, Pennsylvania native and co-owner of Kraisinger Family Dentistry. Dr. Parry and his wife, Hanna reside in Murrysville Pennsylvania with their daughter. He received a B.S in Biology from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. After college, he spent nearly three years performing cancer research at the Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh. The research he completed is now part of several published articles. Dr. Parry then went on to Temple University Kornberg School of Dentistry, where he earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree (DMD).

He is an active member of the American Dental Association (ADA), Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA), Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) and the American Academy of Facial Esthetics (AAFE).


I have always had a lot of respect for Veterans, so this was just a natural extension of this and the core values of why we went into the dental field in the first place…to help people.”

— Dr. Joshua Parry, Murrysville, Pennsylvania