Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation
Our Veteran of the week Mr. Jimmy Clanton served honorably during the Korean War as a member of the United States Army. He makes his home in Mustang, Oklahoma. We were very excited to recognize him for his service at our Veterans Foundation. We also presented him a new cap representing his war. Thank you, Mr. Clanton, for your service to this great nation.
In the last several weeks we have received several automobiles, electric wheelchairs, and scooters given to our organization to be used by veterans and their families or to be sold to raise funds to support their needs. I’m very proud of those of you who have chosen to help us provide our services to the men and women who have served in the American military. As a 501-3-C non-profit your donations are tax deductible and are appreciated by the men and women, we serve. Currently, we spend from twenty-five to thirty thousand dollars each month on veterans and their families. Please consider joining our program as a volunteer or as a monthly donor.
Every week people ask us why so many veterans and surviving spouses come to our foundation for help with their VA claims and questions. My answer is always the same – it’s because of the men and women who volunteer with us each week. During my lifetime I have found that people who volunteer their time to help others will work harder than most people who are getting paid for the same job. If you think about what it feels like to make a difference in someone’s life, you will understand how our volunteers feel each day they are with us. Currently, we are starting at 0530 each Tuesday and Thursday morning and are reaching our maximum capacity before 7 AM. This means we are turning away 20-30 veterans each Tuesday and Thursday morning. I have been helping veterans for many years and never dreamed that our organization would be assisting ten to fifteen thousand veterans and their families each year. People ask me all of the time what they could do to help us to make a difference in the lives of veterans and their families. I tell them that there are many ways they can be a part of what we do without being at our location at five in the morning. Currently, we have several volunteers who are working in outlying areas assisting veterans and spouses file requests for their military records or draft a VA form 21-0966 Intent to file which establishes a start date for benefits. Those folks are then required to visit us in Norman to file a VA form 21-526EZ application for benefits within one year of their initial 21-0966. We would like to have another safe driver to assist Clayton and Louie when they need to schedule some time off. This week they spent 73 hours driving more than 1300 miles transporting 21 veterans to their VA medical appointments and to our location.
Last week our volunteers assisted more than 300 veterans and surviving spouses with their claims for VA, benefits. Most of those we helped were veterans and spouses from Oklahoma with twenty-five or so being from other states.
Last Thursday morning a veteran who lives in China nine months each year visited us for help with a claim for an increase in his disability rating. That is the second veteran we have assisted whose primary residence is in China. Looks like our reputation for being able to help veterans to receive the VA benefits for which they are eligible is growing. For those of you who have friends and family members in other places besides Oklahoma send them our newsletter, maybe they will visit both of us in the near future.
One of the things that has helped us become the go-to place for veterans’ benefits is the fact that as an Accredited Claims Agent for VA, I receive a copy of all decisions the VA makes on those I represent. I also have access to the VA VBMS computer system where I can review the claims files for veterans and surviving spouses who are represented. One of the areas I see the VA improving is the appeals process. Last year they implemented what is called the Rapid Appeals Management Program (RAMP). Several of our veteran’s claims were recently approved after they signed up for that review. Last week, there were 16 veterans who received a VA disability rating of 100% for their service-connected disabilities. The combined annual income for this group of veterans will be $640,594 per year. These men and women will also receive the Oklahoma State Tax benefits of reduced auto tags, property tax exemption on their primary residence and free hunting and fishing license. If the veteran is not receiving military retirement, their spouse and dependents may be eligible for the Champ-VA medical insurance at no cost. Twenty-six veterans received disability ratings from 10% to 90% these men and women will receive a combined annual payment of $364,738 per year. There were two surviving spouses approved for one of the following VA benefits DIC, Pension or Aid and Attendance. Our volunteers who assist the surviving spouses of veterans are helping to change the lives of many of them. For your information, many types of service-connected disabilities or presumptive ones to their military service can be contributing factors to their death. If one or more of them is listed on the Death Certificate, the spouse and dependents may be eligible for VA benefits. Something the spouses of veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange should know is if the veteran died from one of the presumptive diseases associated with that chemical and it is listed on their death certificate, VA benefits may be payable to them. We see surviving spouses whose veteran died many years ago that could have been receiving VA benefits if they would have only known about them.
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.
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 morning 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 as soon as we reach the quota for the day, and that time varies depending on the number of visitors and the number of available volunteers, which usually occurs around 7:00 a.m. Contact us with any questions by email firstname.lastname@example.org. For telephone assistance, please call 405-550-8806 to listen to our options. For help with Surviving Spouse Benefits, Shirley can also be reached at 405-361-9322, or stop by any Tuesday or Thursday morning. Visit our website at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org. Semper Fi!
Dale K. Graham
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation, VA Accredited Claims Agent