Dale K. Veterans Foundation Veteran of the Week, Ralph Roll served in the Korean War while serving in the United States Air Force.  Mr. Roll lives in Clinton, Oklahoma and we were proud to recognize him for his service to our country.  Thank you, Mr. Roll!  We appreciate your service and sacrifice.  One of my favorite things that I get to do is to present a cap to our first-time visitors who served in WW 2 and the Korean War veterans.  I have been told on many occasions that we are the first ones to ever recognize them for their service in either of those Wars.  The men and women who served in those wars have some stories to tell other veterans.  Many of them have never filed a claim for VA benefits.  One thing I tell all veterans is that it will be much easier to help their spouse to receive VA benefits if they are receiving benefits themselves.  
Today we recognize the Oklahoma Electric Cooperative Operation Round-up for their recent gift to this organization to be used for the needs of the men and women who served our country.   Our cost to provide services to veterans is averaging more than thirty thousand dollars each month.  Our costs include transportation to VA appointments, medical testing, rents, utilities, food items along with countless other unforeseen expenses all of us have from time to time.  For those of you who do not participate in the OEC Round-Up billing program, please contact its office for more information.  A few extra pennies go a long way toward helping many organizations in our area.  Thank You OEC.
  It looks like the warm weather is bringing veterans and surviving spouses from all over Oklahoma and surrounding states.  Our local hotels and restaurants are certainly seeing an increase in the number of people coming to Norman for help with their VA claims and questions.  Many of those who visit us are here for several days at a time which means more business for our local retailers.  Maybe they could start offering some type of incentives such as discounted rooms and ten percent off coupons for meals.  As we continue to see an increased number of visitors, there will be many opportunities for our local business to see an increase too.  In 2017, we provided our services to more than 10,000 veterans and surviving spouses.   We are on track to serve more than 14,000 this year.  I don’t know of any single place in this state or any other place that can top what we do for the men and women who served in the American Military.  I’m very proud of the men and women who volunteer their time each week to make a difference in the lives of our veterans and their families.  
  We are now accepting volunteer applications from caring individuals. We recently added another Van to our fleet and need another driver to transport veterans to their VA appointments and our location.  A safe driving record and a will to help others could be your key to join our other three full-time drivers.  We also have other positions available.  For more information, please visit with our Executive Director Lora Malone Tuesday or Thursday morning.
   Last week I received the following rating decisions from the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Six veterans received a 100% rating for their service-connected disabilities.  These men and women will receive an annual combined amount of $221,6617 per year.  They will also be eligible for the following Oklahoma State benefits, including property tax exemption on their primary residence, reduced auto tags, free hunting and fishing licenses, and pay no excise tax on a new car or truck once every three years.  Their spouses and dependents may be eligible for Champ VA medical insurance if they are not retired military.  We had 17 veterans who received a disability rating decision from ten to ninety percent for their service-connected disabilities.  This group of deserving veterans will receive $265,392 per year. We received two $30,795 decisions for DIC, Pension or Aid and Attendance for the surviving spouses of veterans.  These surviving spouses will receive $30,795 per year.  One of the benefits that I have not written about recently is the education benefit that is available for the spouse and dependents of veterans who receive a one hundred percent permanent rating for their service-connected disabilities.  This rating could be $1200 per month for spouse or dependents to continue their education.  
    There were veterans from Texas, Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas and Kansas who visited us last week.  Just proves that our volunteers can help people to receive the VA benefits for which they are eligible while others have failed.  I believe that most veterans could receive benefits if they provided evidence of a disability.  That could be as simple as a claim for hearing loss and tinnitus that was caused by gunfire or exposure to other types of acoustic trauma in the military.  Another disability we are seeing a lot of veterans suffering from are depressive disorders caused by a service-connected disability.  An example, a veteran who is service-connected for hearing loss and tinnitus then becomes depressed because they can’t understand what people are saying or what is on television or radio.   For many years, I have not been able to understand children and some females when they are talking.  The Department of Veterans Affairs has Disability Benefits Questionnaires for several types of mental conditions with Depressive Disorder and PTSD being the most common.  We have seen an increased number of veterans who are service connected for TBI (traumatic brain injury) caused by roadside bombs or IED (improvised explosive devices).  Many of those who were knocked unconscious will have a cognitive disorder where they have difficulty concentrating and may have chronic headaches.  We encourage the veterans we assist in seeking medical and mental treatment for all their disabilities.   
    Our volunteers helping the surviving spouses of veterans continue to make a huge difference in the lives of those they assist with their VA claims and questions. Last week I received several decisions from VA where surviving spouses had recently been approved for DIC, Pension and Aid and Attendance.   Please stop by any Tuesday or Thursday morning for assistance or call us at 405-550-8806.
    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.
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 as soon as we reach the quota for the day, and that time varies depending on the number of visitors and the number of available volunteers, which usually occurs around 8:00 a.m.  Contact us with any questions by email dale@dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org.  For telephone assistance, please call 405-550-8806 to listen to our options.  For help with Surviving Spouse Benefits, Shirley can also be reached at 405-361-9322, or stop by any Tuesday or Thursday morning. Visit our website at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org. Semper Fi!