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Armed to the teeth in experience

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Thomas T. Charlton
  • Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- From the start of his career to now, he has always kept a positive attitude and a smile on his face. Additionally, his patients usually smile just as big as he does, once they sit in his chair.

Patrick Miller, 628th Medical Group Deily Dental Clinic chief of preventative dentistry, dental hygienist, has been in the dental field for 34 years. He completed 20 of those years while serving in the U.S. military.

“When I joined the Air Force in 1983, I came in without a specific career field designated to me,” said Miller. “The Air Force showed me a list of options and I saw dentistry. It was something I had never thought of before and it was something new. I had to do it.”

Miller still had a desire to serve his country and practice dentistry but determined active duty was no longer the proper fit for him. He was unable to locate an Air Force Reserve dental position when he was exploring his post-military options. However, he was able to identify a slot as a dental technician in the Army Reserves. This allowed him to continue serving in the dental career field while practicing in the private sector as well.

“When I was trying to go to the reserves, I switched branches to keep following my passion to serve my country,” said Miller. “Once the Air Force Reserves opened a slot for my career field, I went back to the Air Force in 1994 and stayed until my retirement as a master sergeant in 2003.”

Miller worked for private practices from 1991 until 2011 when he joined the dental clinic for the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. He then practiced at the Department of Veteran Affairs in Georgia and Pennsylvania before coming here.

“Out of all of the places I have worked, I think the team I have here is the best I could ever ask for,” said Miller. “We all help each other stay in high spirits and communicate well, which is why we are as successful as we are.”

He said the clinic here has a conducive work environment allowing for free flow of ideas. The environment allows those in the clinic the opportunity to continue refining their skills. This enables Miller to share the many different experiences and skillsets he’s gained from the variety of places he’s worked throughout his career.

“This is an outstanding team who provide a great environment for anyone walking in our doors,” said Miller. “We, as a team, have set a high standard. I hope to see myself and the rest of my team improve each day and I think, with a team like this, it is more than possible.”

Their hard work was recognized when Miller won the 2016 Dental Civilian of the Year award. He credits his team for their contributions to this achievement.

“You have to realize what the award represents,” said Miller. “If I didn’t have a team willing to work as hard as they do, or supervisors with the drive to submit me for the award in the first place, I wouldn’t have won. This award represents my team and the people we care for, not me.”