Junior H. Daft, Korean War Veteran receiving recognition and a hat from the Korean War from Dale Graham. 

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation

Some of you were like me and read in the newspaper the groundhog didn’t see his shadow, which some say forecasts an early end to winter’s chilling weather.  Personally, that would be all right with me as I can’t help but think about how our homeless veterans make do in freezing temperatures.  I am so proud of our volunteers who give so much of their hearts and their time to tirelessly work toward making America better for our veterans and their families who have given so much.  My hat is off to each of our volunteers who toil each week in the service of others.  I am honored and proud to serve with you.

Congratulations to our Veteran of the Week, Mr. Junior H. Daft.  Mr. Daft served during the 1950’s in the Korean War as a member of the United States Army.  He makes his home in Fletcher, Oklahoma.  Thank you for your service, sir.

Last week was another banner week at the Foundation where once again we helped a LOT of folks.  To the more than 300 visitors who put their faith in us as the group able to help them the most – I also say thank you.  We pledge to continue to learn and work hard for you.  For the past year and a half, we have had training about every two weeks, and the results show.  Not only are the volunteers more knowledgeable we continue to be very successful in our efforts to present claims to the VA.

A huge element in better ways to help veterans and their families is the ability to examine the VA’s electronic claim file for those who have selected me as their VA agent.  However, being the POA is only a part of the equation because since I became an Accredited Agent with the VA, I can also access the documents and other records on file for a veteran for those signed up with me.  The benefits of this development are many, but I think the most important one is having the tools to help everybody better.  Now we know what the VA is reviewing when it makes a decision and can better prepare a case for future approvals.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s a win-win for everyone.  The VA gets a better-prepared claim, and the veterans’ chances of prevailing have increased because we know more about everyone’s papers.

In connection with our constant training, we are always looking for ways to work smarter not harder.  This saying is a necessary part of the landscape because we are a non-profit with an all-volunteer workforce.  When you visit, we are throwing a lot of new information at you.  We never want you to feel rushed but recognize some might feel that way as hundreds are waiting in line behind you.   One of the things we have trained our volunteers to do is to listen and ask lots of questions.  Please don’t take this as trying to make you feel uncomfortable.  We’ve found its human nature that people open up more with each successive conversation.  So, in other words by the time you’ve worked with five different volunteers at our shop, we may finally have the full picture.  We want our volunteers to not only hear you but be educated enough to take action on your comments.  One of my favorite stories comes from a volunteer who reported working with a veteran.  The volunteer asked the veteran if he had ever been injured in the military.  The veteran responded, “not really.”   After hearing several incredible stories about how the veteran was injured but hung back to help the others with whom he served, the questions that volunteer now says “Let’ talk about the ‘not really’ part of never being injured.”

We have handouts of our standard Triage questions that are actually what the sophisticated folk call “talking points.”  On-site, we follow up with each question on the Triage sheet and recently began taking our efforts a step further.  We fill out a Client Homework sheet to record some of the many instructions we share with you.  The Client Homework Checklist will be sent home with the veteran.  We plan to keep tweaking our practices in our efforts to work smarter not harder.  Please let us know how we are doing.

In the mailbag this week, we received VA notification letters that six veterans received a rating of 100%.  These veterans will receive $243,473 per year.  We were also notified that twenty-two veterans received a rating of 10-90%.  This group of veterans will receive $234,354 per year.

Please remember we are a 501 (c) (3) non-profit so your donations should be tax deductible.  We are grateful for your monetary donations that help us provide medical testing for those folks who can’t afford that cost.  The cost of a $100 hearing test is often a barrier to obtaining the evidence a veteran needs to support the claim.   We also accept the donation of running autos that can be given to a needy veteran or sold to help fund some of a veteran’s medical expenses.

Counselors from the Vet Centers are here each session, and a Legal Aid representative is on Thursdays.  We have food baskets available for those who qualify.  We look forward to your visit and thank you for trusting us to help you with your VA matters.

We are available every Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 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.

Visit our website at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org for more information. 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, VA Accredited Claims Agent

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation