As many of you know, we are a 501-C-3 non-profit group that serves veterans and their families.  Most of our funding comes from the people we serve with a small amount coming from local grants we may receive.  Your financial support enables this organization to make a positive difference in the lives of veterans and their surviving spouses.  Your continued support is needed to keep the doors open for the thousands who visit.  In addition to monetary donations, we also accept the donation of cars, trucks, tractors, boats, and motorcycles or other types of items that can be given to veterans in need or sold to raise money to support our mission.  Some of those who visit do not have funds for the basic necessities of life.  We can help some of them with the cost of medical examinations, transportation and other needs on a case by case basis. Thank You for Supporting the men and women who have served in the United States Military!

We recognize a veteran each week who served in either WW II or the Korean War with a hat representing their military service.  Our veteran of the week Mr. Peter Pierro from Oklahoma City served our country honorably in the United States Navy during World War II.  We appreciate the sacrifices that he made during his military service.  Thank You, Sir!

Last week was a busy one for our volunteers.  More veterans visited than we were able to accommodate on both Tuesday and Thursday morning.  We were able to assist 275 visitors even though several of our volunteers were off with the flu.  Those who had to be turned away were asked to return this week.  We have been reaching the maximum we can accommodate by 8 am or so most of the time.  For those of you who can’t understand why so many veterans and surviving spouses visit us, we invite you to stop by for coffee some time to see what goes on at 1268 North Interstate Drive in Norman Oklahoma.  If you need a ride to come see us, please contact our drivers Clayton and Louie.  Last week these volunteers spent 77 hours transporting 25 people 1,492 miles.  When others just seem to talk about what they do, our volunteers commit their time and efforts to do everything they can to help each person to receive the VA benefits for which they are eligible.

We had a veteran visit us Tuesday who had flown in from Maryland for help with his VA claims and questions.  I don’t know what’s going on in other states, but there are sure a lot of veterans and surviving spouses coming from other states for assistance. On a weekly average, we will see from ten to fifteen people who are from other states.  I believe what we do is a plus for Oklahoma since most of them will be spending money on Hotel rooms and eating out along with shopping at some of Norman’s businesses.

One of the things some may not know is that several years ago the VA changed the rules on benefits for military retirees.  Before the changes, the VA would reduce a veteran’s retirement as they increased their disability benefits.  Today retired veterans may receive both VA compensation and military retirement benefits if they are service-connected at fifty percent or higher.  This could mean that if they are approved for a 100% VA disability rating they would receive an additional $3000 per month.  I always encourage all veterans and the surviving spouses of veterans to visit us with their questions about possible VA benefits.  I have been working with a veteran who is a retired Marine Pilot who served in Vietnam and has never filed a claim for VA benefits.  The couple did not buy survivors benefits when he retired.  The surviving spouse will not be eligible for surviving spouse benefits from the military. The veteran did serve in Vietnam and has several of the diseases presumptive to Agent Orange exposure.  We have requested service-connection of those conditions which should result in a one hundred percent VA rating.  This will enable them to receive the $3000 each month until his death. Then his wife should be able to obtain DIC benefits from $1250 to $1500 per month.  There are certainly a lot of veterans and spouses who are not aware of the VA benefits that they may be eligible to receive.

Twenty-five surviving spouses visited us this week with questions about DIC or Pension benefits.  Some were here with questions about possible benefits while several were recently approved for DIC and came by to file for other benefits for which they are eligible. One of those benefits is the Champ-VA medical insurance that is available at no cost to surviving spouses approved for DIC.  Surviving Spouses whose veteran retired from the military will not be eligible for that insurance.  I encourage all surviving spouses to visit us about possible VA benefits.  Another thing I see occasionally are surviving spouses who may have lost more than one spouse.  They can file for surviving spouse benefits based on the military service of either of them.  We always review their records to see if they may have died from a presumptive condition to their military service.  For more information on benefits for surviving spouses visit us any Tuesday or Thursday morning.

One of the first questions we try to ask each veteran or surviving spouses is where and when the veteran served in the military. We do this because of the presumptive conditions associated with chemical contamination. VA has a registry for Veterans who served in Vietnam, Gulf War and (Camp Lejeune 1953 to 1987).  We have applications for these registries available.  There may be VA benefits available to these surviving spouses.

As an Accredited VA Representative, I receive notices from the VA on the folks we help.  Last week, those notices included ten letters to veterans who received a rating of 100%.  They will receive $339,678 on an annual basis.  There were 18 veterans notified of a rating between 10 and 90%.  Those folks will receive $225,046 annually.  One surviving spouse was notified of the benefit of $14,112 yearly.

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.

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 or Shirley Clark-Cowdin for spouse benefits at Extension 104.  Visit our website at Semper Fi!