Leon Burke, Korean War Veteran
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation
One of the things we do that I find very rewarding is to recognize a veteran who served during WW 2 or the Korean War as our veteran of the week. We have been doing this so long that we have already recognized hundreds of them as our veteran of the week. We know that some of those we recognize have never had any type of welcome home before visiting our organization. All of us at our Foundation understand the sacrifices that the men and women who served in the military have endured. Our veteran of the week is Mr. Leon Burke from Hartshorne, Oklahoma who served during the Korean War. We presented him with a new cap representing his military service in that war. Thank You, Mr. Burke, for serving our country.
Veteran, Dennis March of Weokie Credit Union, presented a $1000 check to Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation last week. Thank you, Dennis, for serving our country and thank you Weokie Credit Union for helping us serve veterans and their families.
All our volunteers were very busy both Tuesday and Thursday morning assisting 352 folks last week with their claims for VA benefits and questions. Some the men and women who visit us are suffering from PTSD or Depression or physical disabilities that were caused by or aggravated by their military service. Each person who visits us is treated with respect and dignity by all of us at our Veterans Foundation. We want each person who comes to us for assistance to know that we will do everything possible to help them to be approved for VA benefits. Lately, we are seeing an increase in the number of men and women veterans from the Lawton area requesting help with their VA claims. It looks like our reputation for assisting veterans in receiving their VA benefits is continuing to grow in that area also.
As you know, we have assisted veterans from all seventy-seven counties in Oklahoma along with forty-eight other states and several other countries. As many of our retired military members reside in other countries, we have assisted veterans from eight different countries. Currently, we see 25 or more each week from other states at our Norman office at 1268 North Interstate Drive. One of the things I find interesting is those who come from other states will be paying for food and lodging along with other money they spend here. Maybe we need to set up an account with the Oklahoma Tourism folks to find out how much are we helping our state’s economy. As we have never advertised our services to those who visit our facility, all our visitors have been referred to us. At some point in time, we will be looking at ways to increase the number of veterans and surviving spouses we can assist each week. Currently, we will see an average of 150 each working day. Our record number for one day was 195 or so. That day was too much for many of us, so we scaled back to 150 or so as the maximum we accept each Tuesday and Thursday morning.
We are a 501-3-C Non-Profit that is made up of volunteers who understand the needs of the men and women who have served in our military. Many of them either served themselves or had family members who are veterans. Our team of Surviving Spouse volunteers includes two who are Surviving Spouses of veterans who have walked in the shoes of those they are assisting each week. Our volunteers are continuing to make a difference in the lives of the men and women we serve. As a Non-Profit we are funded by the people we help along with grants from organizations that want to give back to our nation’s veterans and their families. Each week we spend an average of $25,000 in direct aid to veterans or on the services that we provide. Some of our biggest expenses include the cost of a medical provider to fill out a VA Disability Benefits Questioner (DBQ). These are used to diagnose a condition and to show the severity of a condition. Many times, if the veteran does not have a diagnosed disability, the VA will deny their claim for benefits. By using the DBQ as evidence many claims by the veteran will be approved the first time, they request service-connection for their disability. It can also be used to request a re-evaluation of a disability if it becomes more severe. Sometimes the VA will service-connect and rate a disability from the DBQ that the veteran sends in with their 21-526EZ. There are many ways that the Department of Veterans Affairs is striving to improve the way they operate both at the Claims Department and the VA Health Care system. Most of us who use the VA medical centers have seen the improvements in care and wait time for veterans. I’m sure that as time goes on, there will be many other improvements to their systems.
Last week 20 veterans received disability ratings of 100% for their service-connected disabilities. These men and women will receive a combined annual income of $788,034 per year. They will also be eligible for the Oklahoma State Tax benefits such as Sales Tax, Property Tax on a primary residence and other state benefits. Fifty-two veterans received ratings from 10% to 90% for their service-connected disabilities. These men and women will receive an annual combined amount of $883,548. They may be eligible for other benefits depending on their percentage rating.
Counselors from the Vet Centers are here each session, and a Legal Aid representative is here on Thursdays. We have food baskets available for those who qualify. We look forward to your visit and thank you for trusting us to help you with your VA matters.
Visit our website at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org for more information. There you will find a section on Frequently Asked Questions. You may also contact us at 405-550-8806 for information or to schedule transportation.
As always, I want to say Thank You to all veterans and their families for their service to the United States of America.
Dale K. Graham, VA Accredited Claims Agent
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation