By Jackie Devereaux
CHARITY HEALS VETERANS’ WOUNDS
One Local Business woman has been very busy for many years making a huge impact in the lives of wounded veterans, and she’s doing it with deep-rooted passion one veteran at a time.
Guadalupe Ponte, founder and president of Scars to Freedom (STF) received a tax exempt status in 2008 for her non-profit 501 c 3, dedicated to giving free scar removal to veterans in any branch of the military wounded in combat. Ponte, who also has family in the military suffering from combat wounds, has treated soldiers for no fee who find her through the website www.ScarsToFreddom.org.
“Every scar tells a story and no soldier should be left behind,” Ponte says. When she learned that the government does not pay for scar revision unless it causes a “disabling disfigurement” she went into high gear working to fix scars, sometimes working 14 hours a day. “These soldiers fought for our freedoms and deserve free scar revision.”
Ponte also believes that scars cause emotional and physical pain and force veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) to relieve their traumas every day. “Scars, burns and other disfiguring wounds often contribute to a high rate of suicide among service members and it’s my hope to help alleviate some of that suffering,” she added.
As word spread to local and regional military bases, the need for these treatments exceeded her clinic’s capacity to supply them. Ponte has treated veterans from the 29 Palm and Camp Pendleton Marine bases, March Air Force Base, as well as veterans from other states seeking free scar remediation.
“The charity needs more donations to expand and meet the demands of our returning veterans. We rely solely on donations to provide these well-deserved services.”
Since its inception, STF has treated more than 50 veterans for scar removal. These wounds can cost thousands of dollars and more when there is a need for plastic surgery or cosmetic dentistry.
These costs do not include additional follow-up treatments, all which are donated through STF.
Ponte has forged positive relationships with local plastic surgeons, medical practitioners, dermatologists and vein specialists. “It’s my vision to bring out the very best in every individual, so they can experience a happy life,” she said. She has spent decades in building these strong relationships with her clients and industry partners to enhance veterans’ lives.
Ponte has received many awards for her service including the: Presidential Call to Freedom from President Barack Obama; the Charity of the Year Award presented by Congressman Raul Ruiz; the Medal of Honor from St. Lazarus of Jerusalem; and she was honored with a proclamation marking December 15 as Guadalupe Ponte Day by the Palm Desert City Council. A few local sponsors include Agua Celiente Resort Casino and Wells Fargo bank.
“We are committed to creating a higher quality of life for our clients by forging profound and permanent changes. We are dedicated to reducing trauma and removing scars free of charge for our military heroes.”
The charity is asking for public donations to continue to provide these treatments for veterans. Anyone who would like to help during this holiday season is urged to do so. “Please don’t forget about the soldiers who fought for your freedoms. It’s time we take care of them,” she says.
Soldiers seeking treatment for scar revision can contact the Scars to Freedom charity offices located at 74-361 Highway 111, Palm Desert, CA 92260 by mail or by calling (760) 341-7227, or to schedule their first appointment they can call (760) 340-1136