Alvie Boles, World War II Veteran
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation Veteran of the Week, Alvie Boles will celebrate his 100th Birthday on April 14. We helped Mr. Boles receive his VA benefits a few years ago. Raised outside the tiny McClain County town of Rosedale, Oklahoma, Mr. Boles was initially drafted for one year of duty in World War II; he was two months shy of going home when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. His tour was extended indefinitely. A few months later, Boles was among seven soldiers at Fort Bliss, Texas chosen to become a part of a new Army division, the 2 Armored, training at Fort Benning, GA. Under the command of Brig. General George S. Patton, the division was sent to North Africa in November of 1942. Nicknamed “Hell on Wheels,” the 2nd Armored is best known for its role in the campaign at Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge and for being the first American unit to reach Berlin in July of 1945. Boles spent most of World War II driving a half-track vehicle and using a motorcycle to run messages from one artillery unit to another. He had three brief encounters with Patton, including one when they both sat on the windshield of a half-track vehicle and shared some Army rations. “He ate a can of beans with me,” Boles said. Asked about their mealtime conversation, Boles said it was one-sided. “You just answer questions. You don’t talk to him. He does the talking.”. Boles earned a Purple Heart when he was hit in the forehead by shrapnel. “I’ve heard enough people say, “I wasn’t scared.” What I say is, if you weren’t scared, you’re either lying, or you weren’t there. “Boles said. “You had one purpose, and that’s to get home.”
As many of you know, we are doing our best to improve the lives of veterans and their families each Tuesday and Thursday morning. I don’t know of any other volunteer organization in our country that can accomplish what we have done. People asked us all of the time is there another place in other states that help veterans as we do. Our response has always been that we wish there were other organizations that would follow our blueprint for success. The most important asset we have is the men and women who volunteer their time to help others each week. The second tool for success to help veterans receive service-connection of a disability or reevaluation of an existing one is to use the Department of Veterans Affairs, Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) to diagnose and evaluate a disability. We tell all of those who we assist that use the DBQ forms to file what we call, evidence-based claims. The VA developed these to make it easier for the veterans to service-connect a disability. They are also used by the VA to evaluate all disabilities that the veterans are claiming. It seems to me that if the VA is using these forms, then the veteran should use them also to even the playing field when applying for service-connection or the reevaluation of an existing service-connected disability. Our suggestion to those who use other organizations to assist in filing for VA benefits, is to ask them what kind of evidence are they using to support your request for service connection of a disability? Most will only list your disabilities with no evidence that an injury occurred in the military. More times than not, this will result in a denial.
Each Tuesday and Thursday morning there is 150 or more veterans and surviving spouses who are waiting in line for our doors to open. Some having arrived in Norman, Oklahoma from other states or countries. As of last week, we have had visitors from 48 states and from as far away as China and the Philippines. Some of our veterans who are retired or working in other countries do so for financial reasons or have family members living there. These men and women are traveling thousands of miles for assistance with their VA claims by our staff of volunteers. As always most of those who are seeking help from us are from Oklahoma and the surrounding states. It appears to me that we should consider encouraging some of our visitors from other states to become involved as a veteran advocate in their area. We currently provide several training days each month for our volunteers to continually improve their knowledge of the VA claims system. As always, we continue to encourage others to consider joining our team each Tuesday and Thursday morning as we help veterans.
Over 280 veterans and surviving spouses assisted at our Veterans Foundation at 1268 North Interstate Drive with their VA claims and questions last week. The VA decision process for veteran’s claims process continues to improve with some claims being decided within ninety days or less. As we use the postal system and fax to submit veteran’s applications for benefits, it is sometimes over thirty days after we submit before the VA will upload the application into the claims folder. If you have an E-Benefits account, please give VA forty-five days or so to upload any claims that we file. We also encourage veterans to not upload anything to their account before letting us review it. If anything is sent in after we file the 21-526EZ form, their claim will be removed from the Fully Developed Claim and worked under the old system which will add time to the decision-making process.
As a VA Accredited Claims Agent, I receive a copy of all the correspondence that the VA sends to the veterans represented. This enables us to review each decision that VA makes on both the veterans and the surviving spouse’s claims for benefits. We then send a letter to everyone that should follow up with a visit to us for other benefits that they may be eligible to receive. Last week 20 veterans received a one hundred percent rating for their service-connected disabilities. They will receive an annual combined income of $796.250 per year. The men and women who received this rating may be eligible to receive other state of Oklahoma benefits such as Tax Relief on their primary residence, sales tax exemption, reduced cost of auto tags on two vehicles. Their dependents may also be eligible for the free Champ-VA medical insurance if they are 100% permanent and total and are not retired military. Sixty veterans, both male and female, were approved for service-connection of disabilities rated from 10% to 90%. They will receive an annual combined amount of $953,147. When a veteran receives a rating of thirty percent or more, they are eligible to receive dependent benefits which increase the amount of their compensation payments. They may be eligible for other state benefits when they are rated fifty to sixty percent for their service-connected disabilities. Three surviving spouses of veterans were approved for DIC, Pension or Aid and Attendance based on their spouse’s military service. As always, we encourage veterans to file for VA benefits before it is too late. I have found that it is more likely that we can assist a surviving spouse whose partner was service-connected for disability before their death. Did you know that if a service-connected disability is listed as the primary or secondary cause of death on the veteran’s Death Certificate, the surviving spouse can probably receive from twelve hundred to fifteen hundred dollars per month for the rest of his or her life? There are many ways to help a veteran’s family if the veteran is proactive in their claims process.
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. We stop taking clients at 8:00 a.m. and urge you to arrive as early as possible.
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