Spectrum Health Partners With Plastic Surgeons To Offer Free Facial Surgery For War Veterans

Offer Now Extended To Veterans Throughout Michigan

Two plastic surgeons have partnered with Spectrum Health to provide free cosmetic correction or reconstruction of facial injuries for Michigan veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Steve Ringler, MD, and Bradley Bengtson, MD, partners in the Center for Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery, will evaluate veterans at a special clinic on Tuesday, January 13, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at their office located at 2680 Leonard St. NE.

During the screening clinic, Ringler and Bengtson will evaluate scars, burns and other traumatic injuries that may be cosmetically enhanced or reconstructed on an outpatient surgery basis therefore not requiring an overnight stay. The surgeries have tentatively been scheduled for a Saturday in February at Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital in East Grand Rapids. Additional screenings will be held at a later date if necessary

The two physicians and staff at Blodgett Hospital will donate their time to care for veterans selected for surgery. Anesthesiologists from Anesthesia Medical Consultants also will donate their services as will other surgical specialists if needed.’ The offer was originally extended to West Michigan veterans but has been expanded to include the entire state.

“This is our way of thanking all Michigan veterans for their service and sacrifice,” said Ringler. “We felt the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas were the perfect time to offer this gift to our veterans and show our appreciation for all they have done.”

The plastic surgeons are active volunteers. Ringler has served for more than 20 years with Operation Smile, a volunteer medical organization providing free plastic surgery around the world to children with facial deformities. Bengtson works with Project Albania, providing similar services.

“Transitioning back to civilian life can be difficult for many of our service men and women,” said Bengtson. “A facial scar or injury can make that transition more difficult and we consider it an honor to help these individuals with some of the gifts we have been given.” Bengtson has co-authored books on Civil War injuries and medical care.

Ringler and Bengtson were inspired by a request from billionaire and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Sands Corporation of casinos and hotels. Adelson flies wounded soldiers on his personal aircraft to Las Vegas for a week of extravagance, with lines of citizens thanking them for their service to our country. He has challenged other citizens to show their appreciation for veterans of military service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veterans interested in being evaluated by the physicians should call 616-588-0888 or 616-588-2277 or e-mail, The Center for Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery office is located at the Grand Valley Surgery Center, Suite One, 2680 Leonard Street, NE.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan that offers a full continuum of care through its seven hospitals, more than 140 service sites and Priority Health, a health plan with nearly 500,000 members. Spectrum Health’s 14,000 employees, 1,500 medical staff members and 2,000 volunteers are committed to delivering the highest quality care to those in medical need.’ The organization provided $111.1 million in community benefit during its 2008 fiscal year. As a system, Spectrum Health has earned more than 100 awards during the past 10 years. More news about Spectrum Health is available at