Last Friday morning during the rain storm four veterans who are members of the Elks Lodge in Edmond delivered a pickup load of food items for our pantry.   We will use these items to fill the food sacks we give to veterans and their families.  When you see any of the following members John Carr Jr, Edmund Burt, Leo Strong and Les Cummings please give them a big Thank You to the men and women who have served our country.

Our Veteran of the week is Mr. Robert Vogelgesang who served in the United States Army during the Korean War. We recognized him with a new hat while introducing to the other veterans, surviving spouses, and volunteers. Thank You, Mr. Vogelgesang, for your service to this great nation.

Last Thursday the ice and rain kept many veterans and surviving spouses at home with only 16 on Thursday making it to our Veterans Foundation. On Tuesday we were able to assist 120 of them who needed help with their VA claims and questions. The bad weather affected our drivers’ ability to navigate the roads safely. However, they were still able to spend 57 hours transporting 14 veterans 973 miles.

I would like to say Thank you to the veterans who have donated their cars, trucks, and motorcycles to give to veterans or to be sold to raise funds to pay for our programs that support the needs of veterans and their families. These donations are helping us to put more dollars into our programs. Our biggest expense is the cost of medical diagnosis for veterans to obtain the supporting evidence to send in with their application for benefits. Each month we spend between twenty to thirty thousand dollars to support the men and women who have served or continue to serve in our military. That money comes from the men and women we have helped to receive VA benefits. Of the vehicles that were donated in that last two weeks, we will give one of them to a veteran who was part of the recovery team at the Oklahoma City Bombing. He has been recently diagnosed with PTSD from the traumatic events that occurred during the recovery. He was a member of the US Air Force assigned to Tinker as a heavy equipment operator when the call was made to report to the bombing site. We are very proud of all of the men and women who are serving or have served in our country’s military. Many of them will never be the same after serving in combat or in operations that exposed them to the death and injuries of others. A traumatic event might be something that occurred in an accident or the recovery of people that were injured in a tornado or other type of disaster. One of the things we do every Tuesday and Thursday is to encourage veterans to seek out mental health counseling from either the VA, Vet Center or through private counselors. During the last twenty plus years that I have been helping veterans and their families, we have encouraged thousands of veterans to take the time to talk to mental health professionals. As far as I know, none of the veterans we have assisted have ever taken their own life. This is telling me that we are doing the right thing by talking about PTSD and Depression while encouraging our veterans to seek out those who might help them learn to cope. In 1990 I joined a group of Veterans for a program at the OK City Veterans Center called a Walk Though Vietnam. Many of us were suffering from the effects of that war and we did not know how to deal with it. Two weeks after starting the program with fifteen other veterans who were there I found out that I was not alone and that we all had the same PTSD symptoms. I believe that all of the men and women who have served in our military should be required to go through both physical and mental health screenings before being discharged. This could help veterans receive VA benefits for those conditions that occurred while in the military.

Elks Lodge Pantry Donation

I have been receiving many questions from veterans about what VA benefits might be available to those who are nearing the age when it becomes clear they need assistance from others. There are several benefits available to a veteran rated at seventy percent or higher for their service-connected disabilities. If a veteran has that rating, he or she can reside in one of our Oklahoma State Veterans Centers at no cost. Aid and Attendance is another benefit that may be available to veterans or their spouses who need the help of others during their daily living. There are also pension benefits to which a veteran or surviving spouses may be eligible. These benefits are based on when the veteran served in the military, income, as well as their assets not counting their home or automobile. There may be some nursing homes in the Oklahoma City area that are approved by VA where a veteran who is service connected at 70% or higher can stay at no cost.

As the Accredited Claims Agent, I receive the award letters for the folks we help. Last week we received notification that 13 veterans received a rating of 100%. These folks, both men, and women will receive $512,532 on an annualized basis. We also received notice of 22 veterans who received a rating of 10-90%. These folks will receive $312,670 on an annual basis. Three surviving spouses were notified they will receive VA benefits.

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 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 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!