Walter Prichard, World War II Veteran
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation
Our veteran of the Week, Mr. Walter Prichard of Oklahoma City served in World War II as a member of the United States Army. Thank you, Mr. Prichard, for your service to our great country.
Our organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that relies on donations to be able to provide services to the thousands of veterans and their families who need assistance. We accept the donations of cars, trucks, motorcycles or other types of items that can be given to veterans or sold to raise funds to provide for veteran’s needs. Please remember that your donations should be tax deductible on your income taxes.
As we start this week at our Foundation, I wanted to acknowledge the Masonic Lodge of Oklahoma for their generous contribution of $25,000 to help us in our mission to improve the lives of all veterans and their families. Without the help of the men and women who we serve and the support of other corporate donors, what we do would not be possible.
For those of you who have not visited us early any Tuesday or Thursday morning, you would probably be surprised to see over 150 men and women lined up outside our doors waiting for us to open. Our official start time is 0530, but we try to open earlier if we have enough volunteers to start our day. Last week we provided claims assistance to over 300 veterans and surviving spouses. If you are wondering why so many of them visit us, it’s really very simple; we use an evidence-based claims system that works for most veterans to be approved for the VA benefits that they are eligible to receive. I visited with some of our medical providers last week, and they shared with me that some of the other veteran’s service officers from the DAV had started encouraging veterans they help to use some of our providers to fill out VA Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) for evidence to support their claims for VA benefits. One of the most important things that veterans should have is their DBQ evidence, as the VA will send them to their medical evaluators – QTC, LHI or VES that will use the same DBQ form to evaluate the veteran’s disability. By using that evidence, the veteran will have a better chance at having their claims for disability approved. I could write a book about the experiences we have had during the last twenty years or so that we have been helping veterans. Just when I think we have seen it all something will come, that has never been heard of. One of the types of claims that continue to increase is military sexual assault or (MST). I don’t know if it is a sign of the times or that people are just now coming forward with what happened to them in the military. Every week there will be men and women who come forward with a claim of MST during their service time. I knew that many of the women who served faced sexual harassment at some point in their military service; I just did not know that it was so common for some men to be assaulted sexually. Today’s military leadership has probably addressed that issue enough to improve most servicemen and women’s lives. I for one hope to never see another person go through the life-shattering experiences that some military members had. It’s very difficult on the survivors of assault either in the military or in civilian life. One of the first things we do when we identify a person who has been assaulted is to encourage them to visit with our counselors from the Vet Center who is available each Tuesday and Thursday. We provide a volunteer of the same sex to guide them through the VA claims system as they apply for VA benefits. We have several medical providers who are available to fill out a PTSD DBQ to use as evidence when filing a claim for VA benefits. Several years ago, one of the ladies we assisted had been assaulted in 1970 by a senior military member. She had suffered throughout her life blaming herself for someone else’s action. Sometimes we can help victims of MST find closure after they have finished and received VA benefits for what happened to them.
Currently, our Board of Directors is researching and studying ways to grow our organization to enable us to assist everyone who visits us for help with their VA claims and questions. The maximum number of veterans and surviving spouses we can accommodate each Tuesday and Thursday is met very early in the day. Sometimes we have reached 150 veterans by six am in the morning. One of the ways that is being studied is to add satellite locations in other parts of Oklahoma. We currently have a volunteer team that goes to the Lawton Vet Center one day per month, and a team that goes to Binger once a month. I believe that we need local people in other towns who want to volunteer their time to help others in their communities to provide our services. We provide training on a bi-weekly schedule that volunteers could take advantage of that would enable them to assist veterans and surviving spouses in their communities. All applications would be sent to our Norman office to be reviewed before being filed with VA. We are just looking at ways to improve the lives of all veterans and surviving spouses in our state.
As a VA Accredited Claims Agent, I receive a copy of all of the rating decisions and other correspondence veterans and surviving spouses who are represented receive. This enables us to review each decision that VA makes to make sure that each person is receiving the benefits we believe they are entitled to. Last week there were eight veterans who received disability ratings of one hundred percent. That group of men and women veterans will receive an annual combined amount of $316,009 per year. Sixty-five (a record high so far for this year) received ratings ranging from ten percent to ninety percent. This group of veterans will receive an annual combined amount of $812,396. Three surviving spouses were approved for DIC, Pension or Aid and Attendance based on their veteran’s military service and will receive a combined annual amount of $47,281.
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.
We are available every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 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.
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