Paul Keller, Korean War Veteran
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation
We will be closed on Christmas Day and on New Year’s Day.
Each week we recognize veterans for service to our country who served during World War II or the Korean War. Each of them is given a military cap representing their service. The biggest job we then have is deciding which one of them will be our Veteran of the week. Today we are, proud of recognizing Mr. Paul Keller who served in the Korean War as a member of the United States Army during the 1950s. Mr. Keller makes his home in Sulphur, Oklahoma. Thank You, Sir, for your military service to this United States of America.
As we draw closer to the end of 2018, I would like to say that what our volunteers accomplished during the last twelve months for our veterans and their families has never been seen anywhere in this United States. We are assisting an average of three hundred veterans and surviving spouses each week with their claims and questions. Considering we are only open on Tuesday and Thursday morning that is quite an accomplishment for a group of volunteers. Our only goal is to improve the lives of men and women who served in our military. As many of you have gone to different organizations for help yet have been turned down for VA for benefits, we do things a little differently in Norman Oklahoma. We file evidence-based claims for veterans using the VA Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) available on the VA website. These DBQ forms are filled out by medical professionals as they evaluate the veteran’s disabilities. We then submit a Fully Developed Claim on VA form 21-526EZ with our DBQ evidence. Some of these claims may be decided using only the evidence provided while others may require another medical opinion by VA. By using these forms, most of the claims we file are approved by VA on the first time around. If a claim is denied, we review it making any changes that are needed and then follow our first process again. Our system is proven over and over every day.
When I filed my first claim back in the eighties the only choices we had locally were the American Legion, VFW, or ODVA. Back then I did not understand why VA denied my claim for service-connection of an eye condition that occurred while in Vietnam. I thought because I was treated for it in the military, the VA would automatically service-connect my eye condition after filing my claim. It did not take long for me to start reading everything that was available on how to receive VA benefits. I finally wound up with a copy of Volume 38 parts 0 thru 17 of the Code of Federal Regulations. That book has every disability for which a veteran can be service-connected. It also has rating tables showing the different percentages a disability should be rated. I figure the more knowledge that both our volunteers and the veterans and surviving spouses have the more likely we will be able to help them with their VA claims for benefits.
Recently I was reading a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) filled out by a civilian doctor who does contract evaluations for either QTC or LHI (those are companies that do contract medical or mental evaluations for the VA and Social Security). One of their mental health medical providers wrote: “in his opinion, he did not think it was right for veterans to have the option to obtain DBQ evidence or diagnosis of a condition”. To me, that is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard anyone say much less a doctor. The Department of Veterans Affairs developed the DBQ system to establish a level playing field for all veterans. The VA disability system is based on evidence that either supports a veteran’s claim or not. If the Veteran has no evidence of a disability, it can be or is usually denied unless it is presumptive to their military. The only thing I know for sure is we are assisting veterans from all Oklahoma’s 77 counties, 48 states, and four different countries up until last week when I received a request from a veteran living in Kenya and Dubai. It looks like we now have veterans from six countries who are visiting Norman Oklahoma for help with their VA claims and questions.
As many of you know we set a goal of helping one thousand veterans to receive a one hundred percent rating in 2018. As of today, there have been 968 who have received that rating. We will reach our goal in the next week or so, I just don’t know what number we should set for our 2019 goal. This week we have several new volunteers who are joining our team of men and women who are making a difference in the lives of veterans and their families. Our people don’t wonder if they helped anyone or not as we receive all of the decision letters on the veterans and spouses who we serve. Have you thought about the lives of the three hundred plus veterans and family members that we assist weekly? It looks to me like well over ten thousand of them visited us in 2018!
Please remember if you need a ride to visit us contact our drivers at 405-550-8806, extension 105 and 106. These very dedicated volunteers logged almost 80 hours last week transporting 40 veterans more than 1200 miles.
In the mailbag from the VA this week we received more 350 pieces of mail including VA decision letters for 30 veterans who received a rating at 100%. These folks will receive $1,207,395 on an annual basis. Sixty-seven veterans were awarded benefits at the rate of 10-90% and will receive $1,178,670 on an annual basis. Four surviving spouses were awarded benefits and will annually receive $59,450.
If you would like to donate to Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation, you can do so at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org or mail a check to Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation at P.O. Box 592 Washington, Oklahoma 73093. As a 501-C-3 non-profit your gift may be tax deductible. We appreciate your support of our nation’s veterans and their families.
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.
Several organizations have services at our location each week. Legal Aid for veterans is available each Thursday morning. Counselors from the Vet Center will be available each Tuesday and Thursday morning to answer questions about their services.
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 mornings 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 at 8:00 a.m. and urge you to arrive as early as possible. Contact us with any questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For telephone assistance, please call 405-550-8806 to listen to our options. For general information dial extension 101, to schedule transportation dial extension 105 or 106.
For help with Surviving Spouse Benefits, dial extension 104, or stop by any Tuesday or Thursday morning. Visit our website at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org. Semper Fi!
As always, I want to say Thank You to all veterans and their families for their service to this United States of America.
Dale K. Graham, USMC, VA Accredited Claims Agent
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation