It seems that every day brings a new first to all of us with this Pandemic that just seems to go on and on. Who would have ever believed that we would not be able to enjoy Easter Services in our churches and places of worship on Easter Sunday? As a grandparent, one of the highlights of Easter is the family dinners and watching the little ones hunt for their Easter Eggs. This year everything is done with the social distancing in mind, which I indeed do not find appealing at all. As with the rest of you, I feel like my home is becoming smaller with the walls seeming to close in a little more each day.
When we can reopen our Veterans Foundation, I know that there will be an increased number of veterans and their families who will need our assistance with their VA claims and questions. With our economy in such a mess from most of us having to stay home, I believe the need for our services is going to increase many times over. As we move forward and can open up again, I’m sure that there will be changes in the way we serve veterans and their families. Monday, we had a meeting on Zoom to discuss what kind of precautions we may need to take to protect our veterans and volunteers when we reopen. I wish we were able to resume so that we could continue to make a difference in the lives of the men and women who have served this great nation.
Today we would like to recognize our Board of Directors member, Colonel “Chuck” DeBellevue. Colonel DeBellevue earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from the University of Southwestern Louisiana and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the USAF in January 1968. He attended Undergraduate Navigator Training and, after F-4 upgrade training, was assigned to the 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. He was assigned to the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand in October 1971. While there, Chuck flew 220 combat missions—96 of which were over North Vietnam and is credited with the destruction of six North Vietnamese jet fighters in aerial combat–four MiG-21s and two MiG-19s. Chuck is the leading “ACE” from the war in Southeast Asia. Following his combat tour, he attended Undergraduate Pilot Training and upgraded into the F-4. He served in a number of squadron, staff, and command positions. He was the commander of the 432nd Combat Support Group at Misawa Air Base, Japan, and the 95th Air Base Wing at Edwards AFB, CA. His final assignment was as the commander of AFROTC Detachment 440 at the University of Missouri-Columbia. We are happy to have Colonel DeBellevue on our board leading the way as we work to better the lives our veterans and their families. Thank you for your service, Colonel.
The VA continues to do their part by approving many of the claims of the veterans we have worked in the last few months. They should have a lot of their backlog worked out soon if we are not able to reopen by the end of April. Before this Pandemic, we were assisting an average of 300 veterans each week with their claims for VA benefits.
Last week 43 veterans received a disability rating of 100% for their service-connected disabilities. This group will receive a combined annual $1,636,196. They will also be eligible for the state benefits of sales tax exemptions, property tax exemptions, and other benefits that our state provides for disabled veterans. Fifty-one veterans were awarded disability ratings from 10% to 90% and will receive a combined annual $937,629. This group of men and women will be eligible for VA Health Care, and some of them may also be eligible for other state benefits. One surviving spouse was awarded benefits totaling $19,497 a year.
If you would like to help us make a difference, we welcome your support. We spend over $30,000 each month in direct support of the veterans and family members we serve. We transport many homeless veterans to our Norman location each week to help make a difference in the lives of the men and women who have served in the military. As you know, we are a 501 (c) 3 non-profit and are wholly dependent on donations from the people we serve and local grants. We are not funded by a government entity, all the funds it takes to operate our facility and to assist veterans with medical testing, and other expenses come in the form of grants from local companies or other veterans. For those of you who would like to support the program, your gifts are always appreciated and may be tax-exempt. You can shop items from our Amazon charity list to stock our food pantry and shop AmazonSmile with us as the charity – we will receive .5% of your eligible purchases. If you are interested in including us in a gift, please contact Lora at 405-550-8806, ext. 101. Monetary donations can be made online or mailed to PO Box 592, Washington, OK, 73093.
For the latest updates about our reopening, please visit our Facebook page and website dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org
Stay healthy! Our prayers are with all of you and your families during this time of trial in our country.
Dale K. Graham, VA Accredited Claims Agent
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation