Leonard Tucker, Korean War Veteran 

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation

I hope that each of you will be able to spend time with your families on Christmas Day and over the upcoming New Year’s Celebrations.  During this time of year, I always remember what it was like for me and the other service men and women who spent their holidays in distant lands.  In today’s world with E-mail and Cell Phones I’m sure that many of those serving will be talking with their families and friends who are here at home.  All of us at our Veterans Foundation understand the sacrifices that many of those in uniform are facing each day.  We are very thankful for their Military Service for all of us who are living under the Stars and Stripes of this great country.  Without their service and veterans who have served before we would not be living in the greatest nation that ever was.

Our Veteran of the week is Korean War Veteran, Mr. Leonard Tucker of Oklahoma City.  Mr. Tucker served our great nation as a member of the United States Army. We were able to say Thank You and as we introduced him to over one hundred and fifty fellow veterans.  We also presented a military cap representing his service during the Korean War.  Many of those who we have recognized over the years tell me that no one had ever said Thank You for your service before we did.

There were over two hundred and eighty veterans and surviving spouses who were assisted last week with their claims and questions.  When we first started helping veterans and their families, I thought that we would have everyone in our community taken care within ten years.  Needless to say, that did not happen, and each week we are continuing to have from forty to fifty veterans who never have a claim for VA benefits before.  Many of them are from our surrounding three or four counties who never thought they deserved benefits even though they suffered injuries while on active duty.  Another group who we are seeing increased numbers who are filing for benefits are members of the National Guard and Reserve.  One of the reasons for this is the large number of them who have been activated to serve overseas.  Many of them who were not activated are only recently finding out that they are eligible to file for VA benefits if they were injured while traveling to or from their unit.  Veterans can file for disability from an injury that occurred on federal orders (summer camp).  A few years ago I worked a veteran who was injured in a deadly auto accident in 1959 while traveling to his summer camp.  He had been released from the Oklahoma Guard because of his permanent disability.  We obtained a Line of Duty report and requested service connection of the disability that occurred back then.  When his claim for VA benefits was approved, he was rated at 100%.  His question to me was why did not anyone let him that he could have been receiving that benefit for the last fifty years?  My answer is what I tell our visitors each week. The VA is not going to knock on any one’s door to tell them that they may be eligible for VA Benefits.  It’s up to the veteran or surviving spouse to find someone or an organization like ours whose only goal is to help them with their VA claims and questions.

There should never be a cost from anyone to help you to file for benefits.   One thing that we do differently than most other organizations is we file evidenced based claims.  Before the 21-526 EZ form is sent to VA we are going to ask you to provide medical evidence that supports your request for service-connection of a disability.  In places that veterans go for assistance the person helping them will only list disabilities that they believe may be approved by VA.  This may work on some disabilities, but not very many.  We will ask you to either provide a VA Disability Benefits Questionnaire filled out by a medical provider and possibly statements from people who knew about your injuries during military service.  We have found that by encouraging veterans to use this procedure, most of their claims for service-connection of disability will have a better chance of being approved.

We are excited to tell you we reached our goal of 1000 veterans this year who have received a 100% rating.  Congratulations to each of you and we are thankful we were able to help you receive the benefits you are entitled to.

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 dale@dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.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