For those of you who have not visited our location in Norman at 1268 North Interstate Drive on Tuesday or Thursday morning, please do so, you will probably run into some of your friends and neighbors who are there for help with their VA claims and questions.

Our veteran of the week Mr. Ray Tolle Jr of Oklahoma City served during the Korean War in the United States Navy.  We presented Mr. Tolle with a cap representing his service to our military.  Each week we recognize the veterans who served in World War II and the Korean War.  When they visit us for the first time, we give them a new cap and introduce them to their veteran brothers and sisters who are present.  On an average Tuesday and Thursday morning, there will be from 135 to 140 veterans and spouses assisted with their VA claims and questions.  As our organization continues to grow there will be a need for others to join us as a volunteer helping those who have served our nation’s military.  As I have said many times before this is the most rewarding job I have ever had in my life.

As a 501-3-C the donations that we receive from you are tax deductible.  Your gift enables our volunteers to make a difference in the lives of all veterans and their families.  Each week many of the men and women who visit us are facing financial difficulties, and your donations are helping us help them.  On a monthly average, we are spending more than $25,000 in aid to the men and women who have served or continue to serve in our military.  All of us working each Tuesday and Thursday mornings are volunteers who are here for only one reason, and that is improve the lives of veterans and their surviving spouses.  We have several different ways for you to help us to make a difference.  One is to make a monthly contribution that can be set up as an automatic donation using a credit card or bank account.  Another is the donation of cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, tractors or anything that can be given to veterans or sold to raise funds for veterans. Last year we gave needy veterans several cars and trucks that were donated to our organization.  We also sold several of them and used the money to pay for services for veterans.

There are veterans and their families who are suffering every day from disabilities that have been caused by their military service.  Some of them have been diagnosed with PTSD or other types of mental health issues as well as physical disabilities.  We have been working with a lot of young men and women who are unable to find and keep employment because of things that happened in the military.  Some of the services we provide are transportation to their VA medical appointments or our facility for help with their VA claims. Some of them are given one of the food sacks that we provide to veterans and their families who don’t have enough to eat.   As we all know the cost for a medical diagnosis keeps many veterans from obtaining VA compensation for an injury that occurred while in the military.  One of the key things a diagnosis could give the veteran is a nexus letter linking their disability to an event or injury that occurred in the military.  Some organizations will never encourage veterans to obtain evidence that might help them when applying for service-connection of a disability.  We almost always ask the veteran to obtain all of the evidence available that will support their claims for VA benefits.  Sometimes we will also ask the veteran to obtain statements from people with whom they served or from friends or family with whom the veteran shared their story about their military service.

One of the questions I receive many times each week is whether spouses will receive VA benefits when the veteran is deceased.  Nothing is going to happen unless the spouse files a VA Form 21-534EZ requesting either DIC or Pension benefits.  The DIC may be payable if the veteran was rated 100% disabled for ten years or their cause of death was a service-connected disability or one that was presumptive to military service.  The service-connected disability must be listed on the death certificate as the primary or contributing cause of death.  One of the suggestions we have for surviving spouses where the veteran’s service-connected disability was not listed on the death certificate is to have the death certificate amended to list those conditions.  Most times the attending physician does not know about the veteran’s service-connected disabilities and will list only a main cause of death.  Spousal Pension benefits are based on when the veteran served and the income and assets of a surviving spouse.  To understand what may be available, I always urge surviving spouses to come in and visit with our volunteers.

As the Accredited VA Agent, I receive copies of the award letters sent to those we are helping with their VA claims and questions.  Last week there were seven veterans, both male and female, who received a rating of 100%.  These folks will receive $271,868 on an annual basis.  There were 19 folks who were rated at 10-90%.  These folks will receive $272,066 on an annual basis.

I’m very proud of everyone who has dedicated their time to help us make a difference in the lives of all veterans and their spouses.  Two of those volunteers are our drivers who spent 74 hours transporting 21 folks 1,150 miles.  Thank you, Clayton and Louie!  Another volunteer shared a Winston Churchill quote with me.  It certainly echoes we at our Foundation feel.   Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” 

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation has food boxes 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 box.

If you need a ride to and from a VA Medical Appointment, please contact 405-550-8806 Extension 105 or 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 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 8:00 a.m.  Contact us with any questions at 405-550-8806 or email  Visit our website at Semper Fi!