During the last few weeks, several of our volunteers have been off with the flu or other illnesses that many have during the winter months.  I’m requesting that if you are sick to hold off on your visit to see us to protect our volunteers and the other veterans from illness.

Our Board of Directors has suggested we consider offering other services to veterans and their families.  One of them is helping to guide them through employment – maybe starting with how to write a resume or applying for education benefits at either college or trade school training.  I believe that we could and should help our veterans reach their long-term goals in life.  It looks like we will need to start looking for a volunteer to help with veteran’s resumes, could that be you?  We will also be searching for a volunteer who can help with the educational benefits for veterans that may be available from the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Many veterans could use assistance in applying for education or employment after their military service.  For those of you who might be interested in being a part of what we do either these new jobs or helping us with the application process for veterans to receive benefits, please visit with our Executive Director Lora Malone.

Our Veteran of the week is Mr. AJ Willmon of Tuttle.  He served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War.  To show our appreciation for the sacrifices that the men and women who served in either World War II or the Korean War we recognize them in front of our visitors each Tuesday and Thursday while presenting them a new cap. Thank you, Mr. Willmon, for your service.

As many of you know, one of our fundraisers we have to support the needs of veterans and their families is the donation of cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, and tractors that can be sold or given to veterans in need.  As a 501-C-3 non-profit your gift may be tax deductible.  This is just one way to help us to make a difference in the lives of the men and women who have served in our military.  Some of the men and women we have helped over the years have decided to pay it forward by making an automatic monthly contribution by check or credit card.  That money is then used to provide services to other veterans who do not have the funds to pay for medical testing or additional unexpected expenses.

One of the continual expenses is our cost to provide transportation for veterans to the VA Hospital or to our location.  Our drivers Clayton and Louie are on the road everyday rain or shine providing this free service to those who do not have transportation of their own or are unable to drive because of health issues.  Last week these dedicated volunteers spent 75 hours transporting 20 folks 1,019 miles.

As a VA Accredited Claims Agent, I receive a copy of all the VA rating decisions on the veterans and their families represented.  As many of you know, we have been assisting quite a few surviving spouses to receive VA benefits either DIC or Pension based on the veteran’s military service.  Each week our volunteers are providing that service to ten to fifteen surviving spouses of veterans.  Recently the son of a deceased veteran who was rated at the 100% rate asked if we could help him as he was disabled before age eighteen.  After reviewing his medical records, we determined that he might qualify for VA benefits.  A Fully Developed claim was filed per 38 CFR 3.315(A) with all of the evidence needed to support his request for benefits.  I’m pleased to report that he was approved and will receive more than eight hundred dollars each month from VA and will also be eligible to receive the Champ-VA medical Insurance.   On another note, some veterans who were exposed to radiation during the atomic bomb testing developed cancers that may be presumptive to their military service.  If the veteran is deceased, their families may be eligible $75,000 from the Justice Department.  For questions, please visit with Shirley or one of our volunteers who specialize in surviving spouse benefits.  They are available each Tuesday or Thursday morning or call 405-5508806, extension 104 with your questions.

Last week there were 240 veterans and surviving spouses assisted by our volunteers with their VA claims for benefits.  We continue to see both WW II and Korean veterans who visit us to file their first claim for benefits.  Many of these men and women have reached a point in their lives where they need the assistance of others to be able to stay in their own homes.  When they make that first trip to see us many of them are very surprised to see so many volunteers whose only job is to make their visit an enjoyable and productive one.  We have several volunteers whose only job is to welcome each person to our facility and to help them to sign in to see our volunteers. Interviewing each visitor to determine the purpose of their visit allows us the ability to map out a plan for them. As we continue to be the go-to place for assistance with VA Claims and questions about benefits, please consider becoming a part of our team of volunteers.  I would like for us to reach a place where our volunteers are able to process at least 150 veterans and surviving spouses applications for benefits each day we are open. As those numbers increase and more volunteers are trained we hope to be open on other days.

Last week we received notification that five of our Veterans were awarded benefits at the rate of 100%.  These men and women will receive $189,926 on an annual basis.  Fourteen veterans received ratings between 10% and 90%.  These men and women will receive $160,629 annually. One surviving spouse was awarded benefits and will receive $18,679 a year.

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 Rhonda 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 at 1268 North Interstate Drive in Norman, Exit 110 off I-35 each Tuesday and Thursday morning at 5:30 am. Please arrive by 8 am.  We accept the first 130 veterans and spouses. The only reason we are here is to help all veterans and their families receive the VA benefits for which they are eligible. Contact us with any questions at 405-550-8806 Extension 101 or dale@dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org or Shirley Clark-Cowdin for spouse benefits at Extension 104.  Visit our website at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org. Semper Fi!