Harold Paul Reed, Vietnam Veteran 

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation

Looking at the numbers of veterans and surviving spouses who have already visited us in Norman at 1268 North Interstate Drive, 2019 is going to be another record year for our Foundation.  We are assisting more than 300 men and women each week with their VA benefits.  As we use our evidence-based claims system to help each veteran receive the maximum VA benefit possible, it is going to takes a little longer to process each individual’s application for benefits.  Most of those we serve will be on their way home before 9 AM each Tuesday and Thursday morning.  I don’t know of any place who assists veterans in this United States that will have 150 plus people waiting for their doors to open.  Veterans visit us from every county in Oklahoma, 48 states and four other countries.  One of the reasons so many come from out of state is our reputation for being able to help our local veterans.  These local veterans have contacts with the men and women with whom they served. Veterans are a very close-knit group who share knowledge and information to help each other.  To me, that means we are going to need a bigger building and more volunteers to meet the demand for what we do each week.

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation Veteran of the Week honors Harold Reed, a Vietnam Veteran who served as a Helicopter Crew Chief and Door Gunner.  Mr. Reed is a longtime volunteer with the Foundation and has been with Dale since he began helping veterans over 25 years ago.  You will see him every Tuesday and Thursday working away helping his fellow veterans and their families.  Mr. Reed resides in Dibble, Oklahoma.  Thank you for your continued service, Mr. Reed.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been re-inventing itself for several years by improving the forms veterans use to file claims for benefits and encouraging veterans to use the Disability Benefits Questionnaires as evidence.  Many of the veterans who visit us for the first time tell me that when they filed a claim elsewhere the person helping them just listed disabilities and sent the claim in with no evidence.  Most of the disabilities filed in this manner get denied. This causes many veterans to give up and go home telling their friends and family that they applied for VA benefits but were denied.  I have met many veterans who were twenty to ninety years old who had received a denial because no evidence was enclosed with their claim for VA benefits.  Some of them were denied many years ago and suffered severe financial hardship as they have aged.  Almost any veteran exposed to loud noise in the military can receive service-connection for hearing loss and tinnitus if they send in audio evidence that supports their request.

Another thing I have found out over the years is that VA does not have enough staff to review the complete medical records of every veteran who files a claim for benefits.  It’s up to the veteran along with his representative to provide evidence that supports their application for service-connection of a disability.  One of the most important benefits I have as a VA Accredited Claims Agent is my ability to review the service medical records on file in the VA computer system.  Many times, there will be records showing an injury in the military that had previously been denied by VA because the veteran did not submit those records and the VA did not find them.

We are going to update our building in the next few weeks to make your visit even better. First, we are adding two more televisions to make it easier for our guests to keep updated with VA benefits information. We are also exploring the possibility of having new carpet installed.

I would like to find two men or women who would like to join our driving team as alternates or full- time.  Currently, our drivers are averaging transporting veterans fifteen hundred miles each week.  We would like to reduce their workload if possible.  Several times recently we have had a request from wheelchair-bound veterans for rides to the OKC VA hospital we were unable to meet because of driver shortages.

As a 501(c)3 your donations help us pay for such things as doctor appointments, food, rents, and utility payments. Each month we are spending an average of twenty-five thousand dollars to support the veterans and surviving spouses who visit us who are in need.  Personally, I don’t know how many of them are surviving in our community especially in the frigid conditions we are seeing.  Many of the men and women who have served in the military are having a tough time staying warm and having enough to eat.  Our drivers are transporting some of them from the Phoenix House and other locations each day we are open.  It’s one thing to have difficulty paying the rent it is entirely different for those who are living on the streets or in homeless shelters.  We will continue to do what we can for everyone who passes through our doors.  For those of you who would like to help us, please stop in or call Lora at 405-550-8806.

Last week, 309 veterans and spouses were assisted by our volunteers with their VA claims and questions.  As usual, they were from every corner of our state along with six other states represented.  One of the reasons we see so many is our partnership with our states VET Centers.  They have counselors at our location to meet with veterans and their families each day that we are open.  I have watched the interaction that they have with some of them who have never talked to a mental health specialist.  I want to thank them for providing this service to our veterans and their families.

Last week I received the following VA rating decisions on the men and women who represented. Twelve veterans received a one hundred percent rating for their service-connected disabilities that occurred or were aggravated by the military.  These men and women will receive an annual combined amount of $499,609 per year.  Twenty veterans received a disability rating from ten to ninety percent for their service-connected disabilities.  They will receive an annual combined amount of $257,753 per year.  We had two surviving spouses who were approved for DIC, Pension or Aid and Attendance.  They will receive a combined annual payment of $35, 657.

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.

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