We will be closed on Thursday, November 22, 2018, for Thanksgiving.
Our veteran of the week is Mr. Michael Laing, a Navy veteran who served during the Korean War. We recognized him for his service and presented him a military cap representing his military service. Thank You, Mr. Laing, for your military service.
I want to say Thank You to the two families who donated their cars to us this week so that we can give the vehicles to another veteran or use them to raise funds to help others. During the last year, we have received Motorcycles, Cars, Trucks, Farm Tractors and handicap equipment. These items have helped to pay for some of the services we provide to veterans and their families. I want to say Thank You to the men and women who make what we do possible through their donations of these types of items. If you make a monthly contribution or an annual one you are helping us make a big difference in the amount of aid we can provide to our brothers and sisters who served in the United States military. Monthly we are spending more than twenty-five thousand dollars to provide services to veterans and their families. Currently, twelve percent of the people we help will give back to help the next veteran or their family. I wish that everyone would step up to help us make a difference in the lives of other veterans.
We could use another driver to help Louie and Clayton transport veterans to their VA appointments. These two volunteers spent 84.5 hours transporting 23 veterans 1,331 miles this week. We have another van just looking for the right person to start driving veterans to their appointments. The CART bus system in Norman makes three or more trips to the VA Hospital in OKC each day. I have met several veterans from Norman who uses that service for their transportation to their VA appointments.
Today I would like to remind our readers that Veterans Day is November 11th. As we approach that date, I hope each of us will take time to remember the men sacrifices there would be no freedom to make choices ranging from where we live to what we do. I believe that my job on this earth is to help those who can’t help themselves. One of those jobs is to help veterans and the surviving spouses of veterans to receive the VA benefits to which they are eligible. Each Tuesday and Thursday morning more people are asking us for assistance than we can provide. We are currently able to assist 150 veterans and surviving spouses each day. The need for help is far greater than all the organizations in this country combined. As an example, there are more than three hundred thousand veterans in Oklahoma many of whom have never filed a claim for benefits. The Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation can only accommodate ten to fifteen thousand or so each year. There is no way that we could help all of them in my lifetime. What is needed is a coordinated effort to get the word out about VA benefits to every veteran and surviving spouse of veterans. Most of the veterans I meet are eligible to receive some type of benefits if they would only apply for them.
Our staff of volunteers will be available each Tuesday and Thursday morning to answer veteran’s claims about VA benefits. Our only job is to help Veterans and their families. If you have never filed a claim, or are currently receiving VA benefits feel free to stop by for an evaluation of your VA claims folder.
One of the more significant problems that are affecting the number of surviving spouses who apply for VA benefits is the fact that their veteran did not file a claim for benefits. We have found that if a veteran is receiving VA benefits and their service-connected disability is on their Death Certificate the spouse will probably be eligible to receive VA DIC benefits from $1250 to $1500 per year. Those benefits could make a big difference in how the surviving spouse of a veteran lives out their years. Too many times the surviving spouses will be forced to sell their homes and move in with relatives or into substandard housing. We encourage all surviving spouses of veterans to visit with our volunteers any Tuesday or Thursday morning.
Even though most of the people who read this newsletter probably already know, I am a VA Accredited Claims Agent that provides services to veterans and their families at NO Charge. They also know I receive a copy of all VA correspondence to the veteran and surviving spouses represented. On any given week we will receive more than over five hundred letters from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Some of these will be requests for information, rating decisions (award letters) along with many other types of notices. By receiving this information, we can send a notification to the veteran explaining what they need to do next to continue their applications for benefits. Another way this helps is that I’m able to review the veteran’s claims folder in the VA Computer system. Many times, that access will enable me to review the VA’s C&P performed by the VA Hospitals or by one of the contractors like QTC or LHI. Both receiving VA the rating decisions and our ability to view the VA electronic claims folder has helped to improve the claims process we provide to veterans and their families.
Last week we received 46 rating decisions that granted a 100% evaluation to veterans both male and female. They will receive an annual combined amount of $1,736,405 per year. They will also be eligible for other state and federal benefits. Fifty-seven veterans received ratings from ten to ninety percent. These veterans will receive a combined annual income of $841,796 per year. Those with a fifty percent or higher rating will receive some state benefits. Two surviving spouses received DIC, Pension or Aid and Attendance benefits based on their spouses’ military service. They will receive an annual combined amount of $29,509 per year.
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation has food sacks available to those in need. An application for this type of assistance will be available on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. A DD-214 or military discharge will be necessary to apply. Please contact 405-550-8806 Extension 103 to request a food sack.
Several organizations have services at our location each week. Legal Aid for veterans is available each Thursday morning. Counselors from the Vet Center will be available each Tuesday and Thursday morning to answer questions about their services.
If you need a ride to and from a VA Medical Appointment, please contact 405-550-8806 to reach Clayton at Extension 105 or Louie at Ext. 106.
We are available every Tuesday and Thursday mornings at the 1268 North Interstate Drive Norman, OK 73072. We open the doors by 5:30 a.m. and we begin working as soon as volunteers have their computers ready. We stop taking clients at 8:00 a.m. and urge you to arrive as soon as possible. Contact us with any questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For telephone assistance, please call 405-550-8806 to listen to our options. For general information dial extension 101, to schedule transportation dial extension 105 or 106. For help with Surviving Spouse Benefits, dial extension 104, or stop by any Tuesday or Thursday morning. Visit our website at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org. Semper Fi!
As always, I want to say Thank You to all veterans and their families for their service to this United States of America.
Dale K. Graham, USMC, VA Accredited Claims Agent
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation