Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation

A lot was going on at our location at 1268 North Interstate Drive in Norman last Tuesday and Thursday morning.  Mick Cornett, one of the Republican Candidates for Governor, stopped in early Tuesday morning to visit with some of our veterans who served in our military.  Mr. Cornett is the former Mayor of Oklahoma City.  We appreciate him taking the time out of his busy schedule to listen to veterans on the types of issues that they face today.  Thank You, Mr. Cornett, for caring about our veterans!

As a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization our funding comes from people in our community and grants from local charities.  We also accept the donations of cars, trucks, motorcycles and other types of items that can be given to veterans or sold to raise money to support what we do for veterans and their families.  Last week a couple in Norman called to say they had a useable car they wanted to donate.  When I went to pick it up, they told me that we had helped their son with rent and other items last year and that they wanted to give back to a local organization.  We appreciate everyone who helps us make a difference in the lives of our veterans their families.One of the ladies who volunteered with us in our mail room Linda York passed away last week.  She will be missed by all of us who knew her by her quick wit and smile each day.  As a volunteer, she was one of our ladies who spent each Tuesday morning addressing and mailing our correspondence to hundreds of veterans each week.  Our condolences go out to her family and friends.

During the first seven months of 2018, we set a record having 475 veterans both male and female received a 100% disability rating for their service-connected disabilities.  We have served veterans and their families from all 77 counties in Oklahoma and 45 states in the Nation.  For those of you who ask why so many veterans and surviving spouses visit our organization, it is because many of our volunteers have walked in their footsteps before.   We are fortunate to have so many wonderful volunteers who donate their time each week to help others.  Some examples are our drivers who donated 82 hours last week transporting 22 veterans 1,483 miles.  All our volunteers understand the needs of those who have served in the military.  Some veterans will experience difficulties in the transition process from structured military life to civilian life.  To help veterans who are having difficulty with mental health issues, the Veteran Centers in Oklahoma City and Lawton will have a counselor available each Tuesday and Thursday morning at our Norman location. We are very pleased to have these representatives here to help our veterans who need assistance.   Seems to me, there are a lot of great things going on at our Veterans Foundation for our veterans and the surviving spouses of the men and women who have served in the military.  For those of you who have not stopped in with your claims and questions about possible VA benefits we start each Tuesday and Thursday morning at 5:30 a.m. accepting the first 140 veterans and spouses.  We have usually reached our maximum building limit by 0700 each day.

One of the benefits of being an Accredited Claims Agent is that VA sends me a copy of every rating decision and correspondence that the people represented receive.  This allows me to open the VA computer system to review the claims folders on all of those I serve.  Last year we helped a WW II veteran who is 103 years young from Clinton file his first application for VA benefits.  We are happy to report he was approved for a disability rating of 100%.  When we called him to make a trip back to see us to apply for the state benefits, he was a very happy veteran.  It gives us an excellent feeling to know that many of the men and women we assist will be approved for VA benefits.  He will join the other 474 veterans in 2018 we have already helped receive that 100% rating for their service-connected disabilities.

As you can tell I enjoy sharing some of the good things that happen to many of the veterans and surviving spouses who visit us each week.  One of the rating decisions we received on Saturday was for a local veteran whose case we have been working on for several years.  He had been denied several times since 2012 for service-connection of a disability that was caused by exposure to Agent Orange.  We appealed the original denial to the Board of Veterans Appeals in Washington DC.  The Saturday letter announced the veteran was awarded service-connection of his disabilities and received a 100% rating dating back to 2013.  Needless to say, he was thrilled, and he received more than $140,000 in back payments for those disabilities. We do our best to ensure all our veterans get the help they deserve for giving so much to our country.

Last Tuesday and Thursday morning, we were able to assist 297 veterans and surviving spouses with their VA claims and questions.  I don’t think there is another organization in this country that can help so many veterans and their families receive benefits. Currently, we are on schedule to assist fourteen to fifteen thousand veterans and their families with their VA applications for benefits.  I’m very proud of all of our volunteers who are making what we do a success.  If you’re not able to visit us in Norman, Oklahoma my advice to you is to obtain evidence that supports your claim for a service-connection of a disability.  The best way is to use the VA Disability Benefits Questionnaires that are available on the VA website.  These forms are used to provide a diagnosis of a disability, describe the severity of the condition you are asking VA to re-evaluate or to request service-connection of a new disability.  There were veterans from South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri who visited our location last Tuesday and Thursday morning.  Our philosophy has always been to help all veterans and their families receive all of the VA benefits they are eligible for.

As you’ve heard me mention before, as a VA Accredited Agent I receive a copy of the letters sent to the folks I represent.  This creates both a huge benefit and a slight burden.  The number of letters Rhonda Reynolds and I open and review each week are normally more than 300.  There were 318 just this week but not that long ago we received 652 letters in one week.  This is a huge benefit as we can now see from the letters what the VA awarded, what percentage level the VA assigned, and what we can do to get the veteran to the next level of benefits.  This information allows us to serve you better, so we say to the VA, please keep ‘em coming!

In the mailbag last week, we received notification that 21 folks were awarded benefits at the 100% rate.  This group, on an annual basis, will receive $811,862, plus the various state benefits that are available.  In the category of 10-90% rating, there were 36 recipients, and this group will receive $506,832 on an annual basis.  Two surviving spouses were notified they would receive benefits and these will total $29, 509 on an annual basis.

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 dale@dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.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