The American Red Cross and 2nd Dental Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group have been working together to provide an opportunity for eligible participants to enter the dental career field with the Dental Assistant Program.

Active duty military, dependents, reservists, retirees and Red Cross volunteers can eventually become dental technicians by enrolling in the program.

Although the program does not provide credentials upon completion, graduates can take an exam after graduation to become a qualified technician.

"The program provides the tools and training technicians need," said James Jarvis American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces Manager. "The program is an opportunity for (them) to learn a marketable skill, allowing them to work in a dental office."

Free of cost, the program allows students to save approximately $800 to $7,500, according to uscollegesearch.org.

"The program is the best way for individuals interested in the dental field to get experience," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley Domenech, 2nd Dental Battalion program coordinator for the Dental Assistant Program. "During the 500 hours of hands-on training, the program schedule is flexible which helps students with children."

During the six-month long program, students learn skills such as basic life support, safety, hazard communication, infection control, dental charting, dental materials and preparation and simple pathology.

In addition to learning a skill for themselves, students help service members while they are working in the clinic.

Students help out 2nd Dental Battalion, Marines and sailors and the American Red Cross while studying in the program, said Domenech.

To graduate the program, students spend 80 hours in the classroom and complete 500 hours of clinic experience working with a variety of doctors and clinical specialties.

Prospective students can submit their applications for the Fall 2016 iteration to American Red Cross offices located at Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station New River or Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune by Aug. 26 at 5 p.m.