Henry Gowan, Korean War Veteran 

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation

As a VA Accredited Claims Agent for more than twenty-one thousand Veterans and Surviving Spouses, some of their VA claims will be denied. Our next step is to challenge that ruling three times.  When this doesn’t work, and the claim is denied, a Notice of Disagreement will be filed to start the appeal process.  As the claim works its way through the VA appeals system, some claims will end up at the Board of Veterans Affairs.  The BVA will then schedule us for a video conference before a VA Administrative Law Judge who will preside at a local hearing via a link to their office in Washington DC.  Until recently, these hearings were held in Muskogee, Oklahoma requiring both the veterans or surviving spouses to travel as well as our volunteers.  A round trip from Norman to Muskogee involved around six hours in travel time alone.  The hearings were brief and spanned less than thirty minutes.

Our Veteran of the week is Mr. Henry Gowan who served honorably during the Korean War.  We want to say thank you to him and all of the men and women who have answered America’s call to serve in the military.

We had another busy week assisting veterans and the surviving spouses.  Our volunteers helped more than three hundred with their claims and questions.  People ask us every day why and how do we continue to do so much for veterans and their families.  Our answer is always the same – it’s because if we don’t help our brothers and sisters chances are no one else will.  I believe the men and women who volunteer with us know what the young men and women returning from active duty have faced.  Many of them are scarred both physically and emotionally from things that occurred to them and their buddies. No one is going to reach out to them to offer encouragement or any type of support.  I believe our volunteers are the reason veterans from forty-eight states and four countries are traveling to Norman, Oklahoma.  Each day we receive calls from veterans who were injured in the military and denied benefits.  My answer to all of them is to visit us, and we may be able to help them receive approval for VA benefits.

Last week I received the following rating decisions from the Department of Veterans Affairs for the men and women represented.   Sixteen veterans were awarded a one hundred percent rating for their service-connected disabilities.  They will receive a combined annual income of $630,647 per year and are also eligible for several other federal and state benefits such as property tax exemption on their primary residence, sales tax exemption, reduced auto tags, and other benefits.  Forty-seven veterans both male and female were awarded service-connection of their disabilities ranging from ten percent to ninety percent.  They will receive an annual combined amount of $775,927 per year.

One of the things we have not written about lately are the benefits for a helpless child of a veteran rated at 100%.   If a dependent became disabled before their eighteenth birthday, they might qualify for payments as a helpless child.  We encourage veterans who have a child who might be eligible visit us any Tuesday or Thursday morning.  One of the presumptive diseases for children of a male veteran who served in Vietnam is Spina-Bifida.  Female veterans who served there have a longer list of presumptive conditions for which their children may qualify.

One of the reasons we encourage all veterans to apply for benefits is the high cost of medical care.  Did you know that most veterans do not qualify for VA Health Care unless they have a service-connected disability or are living below the poverty level?  Over the last twenty years, we have helped tens of thousands of veterans to qualify for VA Healthcare by assisting them to receive a service-connected disability rating.  Even if a veteran only receives a zero percent service connection that opens the door to VA health care.  This service-connection makes a huge difference for veterans who have no other options for medical care.  In other words that ten percent rating for Tinnitus might save your life someday if you needed medical attention and could not afford it.

For those of you who would like to support our Veterans Foundation, we are a 501(c )(3)Non-Profit so your donations should be tax deductible.  Since all of us are volunteers most of the money we receive goes for support of veterans and their families.  We also accept the donation of cars, trucks, motorcycles, tractors, wheelchairs and other types of handicapped equipment that can be given to veterans, and their families or sold to raise operational funds.

The surviving spouses who visit us each week are a very important part of what we do.  Many of them will visit us for the first time not knowing if they are eligible to receive VA benefits based on their veteran’s military service.  For those whose veteran was receiving VA benefits, it is usually easier to service-connect their death.  Surviving Spouses of Veterans who served where there were presumptive diseases caused by Agent Orange, Camp Leguine or served in the Gulf War may qualify if one of the presumptive diseases is listed on the veterans Death Certificate.  As always, we encourage all surviving spouses to visit with one of our surviving spouse specialists.

Several organizations have services at our location each week. Legal Aid for veterans is available each Thursday morning.  We also have Counselors from the Vet Center here to help you each Tuesday and Thursday morning and answer questions about their services.

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.

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