Bill Shaw, World War II Veteran
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation
We will be closed on Christmas Day and on New Year’s Day.
I hope each of you was able to spend time with your friends and family last week. One of the places I visited was Norman High School for the Annual Food and Shelter Thanksgiving Dinner. I wanted to visit with any homeless or local veterans to offer assistance to them when applying for VA benefits. Over the years that we have been helping veterans, one of the things we have learned is if a veteran is receiving benefits for their service-connected disabilities, they will most likely not be homeless. A little walking around money can go a long way to help anyone get off the streets. There were hundreds of Norman residents who were there who otherwise might not have had a meal on Thanksgiving Day. Others were there to enjoy the fellowship with others and not be alone for the holidays. I can attest to the fact that the Turkey was prepared just right, and all the fixin’s were perfect. Good Job Food & Shelter! Each year, Food and Shelter collaborates with Salvation Army and various other community members to host a community meal on Thanksgiving Day at Norman High School. The meal consists of all traditional fixings including turkey and dressing and of course pie.
We would like to honor Mr. Bill Shaw of Choctaw as our Veteran of the Week. Mr. Shaw served in the United States Navy during World War II. Thank you for your service, sir. We appreciate you!
With our Foundation only open on Tuesday last week for the holiday, we assisted as many veterans and surviving spouses as possible. We were able to process 175 at our location Tuesday with nine veterans assisted electronically. That number does not include the twenty or so who were turned away after we reached the maximum for the day. Our days have been long each Tuesday and Thursday morning with many of them stretching to twelve hours or more. I don’t know of any organization where volunteers are doing so much for the men and women who served in the military. As the colder weather sets in, there will be more veterans and their families who will be suffering because of it. There will be a more significant need for us to provide services to those less fortunate than others. Each month our average expenditures is more than twenty-five thousand dollars to help veterans and their families. Our funding comes from the men and women we help and from the grants we receive from local charitable organizations. The needs of many of the men and women who served in our military continue to grow due to the almost seventeen-year war in Afghanistan along with the ones in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East going spanning the early nineties. Our service men and women have earned our support. For those of you who would like to help us, we are a 501(c) (3) Non- Profit where your donations should be tax deductible. We also have our automobile donation program where we accept cars, trucks, tractors, motorcycles, and handicap equipment that can be given to veterans and their families or sold to raise funds.
A lot of the people we have helped will return just to tell us how their lives changed after they were approved for the VA benefits, we helped them to receive. As many of the men and women who have assisted are no longer working and are on a fixed income, it is sometimes a life-changing event when they start receiving from a few hundred dollars to more than three thousand dollars each month. Some of the men and women we assist are not able to join the workforce and are living on from under one thousand up to two thousand dollars per month with most of them closer to the lower number. One of the things I find myself doing when I meet new people is, I always ask if they served in the military. Depending on their age most of them over sixty will say yes. I then inquire if they are receiving VA benefits and I tell them about our Veterans Foundation. There are always a few who tell me that they don’t need VA benefits. I then ask them if they are married. If their answer is yes, I tell them about the surviving spouses of veterans who visit us each week that need the VA benefits that may have been available to them. These surviving spouses could have been entitled to benefits if the Veteran had taken action. If a veteran’s service-connected disability is listed on their Death Certificate as a primary or contributing condition to their cause of death the spouse will probably receive the DIC benefit which is from twelve hundred to fifteen hundred dollars per month plus possible Champ VA Medical Insurance. We have found that it is a lot easier to assist a surviving spouse if the veteran had already been approved for service-connection of a disability. Personally, I would like to see all veterans and surviving spouses receive the VA benefits for which they are eligible.
One of the things we do each week is to provide transportation for veterans who need to see us or have appointments at the VA hospital. Currently, we have two full time and one part-time driver who are averaging fifteen hundred miles each week. Last week they spent 61 hours transporting 17 veterans. I would like to add another full-time driver to take some of the load off our current volunteers. If you are interested in joining our program, please visit with Lora Malone any Tuesday or Thursday morning.
I would also encourage others to join our team of volunteers who are helping to change the lives of veterans and their families. Our mission will never be complete until every veteran in Oklahoma has passed through our doors. We have assisted veterans from all seventy-seven counties in this state along with veterans from more than forty-seven other states and four countries. For those of you who have not spent a few hours with us on Tuesday or Thursday morning, I doubt that you have ever seen anything like what we do. We are assisting an average of more than three hundred veterans and surviving spouses each week. The men and women who visit us tell me they have never been to a place that actually helped them in so many ways. We begin each session with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. While folks are being helped with their VA questions, they can spend time with lawyers providing free legal services, bankers who answer VA loan questions or chat with a representative from the Social Security Administration. We find they also enjoy talking with each other in a safe environment with a large group of folks who have shared similar experiences.
As a VA accredited Claims agent, I receive copies of all rating decisions on the veterans and surviving spouses whom I serve as the POA for with their VA claims. I received the following rating decisions last week: 17 veterans were awarded a 100% rating for their service-connected disabilities. These men and women will receive a combined annual income of $649,655 per year. Fifty-four veterans were awarded disability ratings from 0% to 90% for their service-connected disabilities. They will receive an annual combined amount of $855,698 per year.
If you would like to donate to Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation, you can do so at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org or mail a check to Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation at P.O. Box 592 Washington, Oklahoma 73093. As a 501-C-3 non-profit your gift may be tax deductible. We appreciate your support of our nation’s veterans and their families.
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 early 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