October 20, 2008

Reference books making a difference for U.S. and Iraqi military dentists, says School of Dental Medicine alumnus

Soldier receives much needed textbooks

"If only we had some reference books," was the message delivered by Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine alumnus Robert Gilliam, a captain in the U.S. Army serving in Iraq. A donation of 13 books from the School of Dental Medicine answered that call for dentists like Gilliam serving at American and Iraqi Army Dental Clinics.

On duty in Taji, Iraq, Gilliam heard and saw the need as he works in partnership with Iraqi dentists. He is currently a Brigade Dentist for the 2nd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division deployed out of Hawaii.

"From personal experience practicing in Iraq, I knew what an invaluable asset reference materials and texts can be," said Gilliam. "It occurred to me that if available, such texts would be a great asset for Iraqi dentists as well."

Those needs became evident to Gilliam and another military dentist as they coordinate and oversee the partnership between the U.S. and Iraqi hospitals in the areas of training, classes and social events.

He talked to his Iraqi peers about their needs and compiled a list.

"Since Case Western Reserve is my alma mater, and because of its history of service and charity, it was the first school I contacted," said Gilliam.

Through Dean Jerold Goldberg's assistance, Marsha Pyle, associate dean for education, and John Smolik, director of finance and operations, located the resources, shipping the books to Iraq.

"It was my intention to contact other dental schools afterwards to acquire any texts still lacking, but Case Western Reserve actually provided everything on the list. In fact, the school donated more than what was asked for and were very generous," said Gilliam.

Soldiers with textbooks

The dental school went beyond filling the wish list and contacted Lexi-Comp, a company offering clinical databases on drugs, which provided drug manuals.

Gilliam works in a fixed facility in Taji. He and fellow alumnus Capt. Brandon Johnson take care of the dental needs of soldiers in the American and Iraqi armies…The two dentists are among six dental school alums serving in the military and meeting the needs of the servicemen on duty.

Gilliam says he works six days a week fielding sick calls and scheduled appointments and provides emergency care whenever needed.

When not at the dental clinic, he volunteers and provides oral health tips to the soldiers. He even takes care of the dental needs of the Army's dog, which recently required a root canal.

In addition to Gilliam and Johnson, there are four dental school alumni serving at his home duty station in Hawaii: Maj. Andy Anderson, Capt. Andy Gilbert, Maj. Stephen Jensen and Maj. Charles Lambert.

For more information contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, October 20, 2008 11:34 AM | News Topics: Alumni, Collaborations/Partnerships, Community Outreach, HeadlinesMain, Provost Initiatives, School of Dental Medicine, Teaching, international, news

Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.