My name is Daniel Semrau. I served in the United States Marine Corps from 2004 – 2008. I was in the infantry and was deployed twice. On the second deployment, I was sent to a city in Iraq called Fallujah. In 2006 this was a very bad place to be. I was just 21 years old and given command of a vehicle that consisted of myself and four other Marines. While on patrol in December of 2006 our vehicle struck an IED, a roadside bomb. A rather large one, that wounded myself and the other Marines. I was medevaced from Iraq to Germany and finally back to the US. I spent the next year and a half rehabilitating in North Carolina at the Wounded Warrior Barracks. After finally rehabbing to a point the military was satisfied with I was medically discharged and returned home to Buffalo.
The next few years that followed were a very tough time for me. I was not only dealing with a traumatic brain injury and physical pain from being wounded by an IED, but I also had a very tough time mentally dealing with being taken away from my fellow Marines and all the things that had happened in Iraq. Adjusting to civilian life was not a joyous occasion and it lead to several years of me being in a rough place. After several years of living like this I refocused my life and went back to school. I am now well on my way to earning my Doctorate in Physical Therapy from D’Youville. This has not been an easy road as I have a wife and three beautiful children to take care of as well. As I move through my education and am out doing my clinicals I find myself very embarassed of my teeth. I have always done everything I can to take the best care of them as I possibly could. However, they have deteriorated much, much worse than should have only being 31 years old. It is tough for a Marine to admit when he is scared, but I am very scared that the terrible appearance of my teeth will affect me professionally. It is very stressful always trying to hide them from my peers so that I can be judged on my work and not on how my teeth look. It is a struggle being a student and taking care of a family so I have not be in a position to be able to fix them, anything you can do would be so greatly appreciated from not only the bottom of my heart but also the bottom of my family’s heart. Thank you for taking the time to read my story. -Dan Semrau
*PS: I’m sorry the camera on my phone is poor in conjuction with the fact I wear a long mustache to hide my teeth. Also I hope this gets through this year, last year I found an email months after thinking I wasn’t considered saying a was a finalist, so I triple checked that my email is correct this time.
Dan enlisted into the Marine Corp. He was initially stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC, and was subsequently deployed to Iraq, where he served in the infantry, engaging in combat. Dan enjoyed his time in the service, he enjoyed the camaraderie, the sense of brotherhood and belonging. He was wounded and clearly states he would do it all over again, he’s very proud of what he did. During his service, he was awarded numerous honors, medals and badges including the Purple Heart.
Dan re-entered our Give Back a Smile event after missing an email from us last year, notifying him he was selected as a finalist. He wanted to get his smile back so that people would judge him on his personality and not just on his teeth. He didn’t laugh or smile before getting his smile back, holding back his true personality. Dan can now smile-and what a smile he has!
Dan post Westermeier Martin Dental Care with his smilemaker, Dr. Matt Whipple. So nice to see Dan smiling so widely!