Ramiro Roca, United States Army Veteran 

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation

Our veteran of the week is Mr. Ramiro Roca who served in the United States Army for 13 ½ years.  Mr. Roca has been a volunteer alongside Dale since 2005.  Thank you for your many years of service to our country and to our fellow veterans, Ramiro.  We appreciate you!

To those of you who answered our annual newsletter with a donation, I can’t Thank You enough.  Between your giving and those who give monthly, we will be able to continue our mission to improve the lives of veterans and their families.   Another way we raise funds is through our automobile donation program where we accept cars, trucks, motorcycles, or other vehicles that can be given to veterans or sold to raise funds to assist them.  As a 501 (c) (3) your donations should be tax deductible. We also accept handicapped items such as wheelchairs, scooters, lift chairs or other items that can be given to veterans and their families.

As I have always said, as veterans if we don’t help each other no one else will.  There will not be anyone knocking on your door to tell veterans you are eligible to receive VA benefits.  Veterans tell me every day that they never knew they might qualify for benefits before coming to see us.  Most of the veterans who visit us are on a fixed income, and we all know that the longer we live, the less our income will buy.  That cost of living index added to social security, and other types of programs have not kept up with inflation.  When I retired sixteen years ago, I thought we would live out our years financially independent.  Needless to say, that was before a new truck cost fifty thousand dollars or more.  It seems like everything cost more today than any increases in income we have.  I have been trying to improve the lives of veterans and their families for many years by helping them receive any VA benefits for which they are eligible.  Another form of help is the free medications and health care available to those who achieve a certain level a service-connected disability.  I have veterans who tell me without VA health care for themselves and the Champ VA medical insurance for their spouses they would go broke.  (Veterans rated at the service connected 100% rate may be eligible for the Champ-VA medical insurance for their spouse and dependents.)

Last week we were only open Thursday as Tuesday was the beginning of our New Year.  It was a cold and wet day for our volunteers and our visitors.  When I arrived at 0430, there were only forty veterans who braved the slick roads and cold weather.  We had everyone finished before noon and on their way home.  Even with the inclement weather and the holiday, our drivers still donated 47 hours and covered 720 miles transporting ten veterans.

We believe 2019 will be a great year for the thousands of Veterans and Surviving Spouses who will visit us in Norman, Oklahoma at 1268 North Interstate Drive.  As we grow, there will be a need for and their families.  We provide training that is second to none for all our volunteers.  During last year we were averaging close to three hundred veterans and surviving spouses each week.  We expect that number to increase as more veterans and their families understand that by filing their VA disability claims using our evidence-based system most of the claims will be approved.  Several years ago, the Department of Veterans Affairs developed Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) to be used by the veteran and VA evaluators to diagnose and to evaluate the severity of veteran’s disabilities.  I can honestly say if the veteran has a medical provider complete a DBQ their chances of being approved for VA benefits will improve dramatically.  When I first started assisting veterans many years ago, a service officer would just submit a list of everything the veteran wanted to be service-connected. When there was only a list of conditions most of their claims would be denied.   At that point, a Notice of Disagreement was filed, and the claims were going to the appeals process in Washington DC.  To me, that is part of the reason for the backlog in the VA system.  If the veteran would have provided a DBQ with their application for benefits, their claim would have most likely been approved the first time.  We believe an evidence-based claim is much quicker and has a better outcome for the veteran filing for a new disability or a re-evaluation of a service-connected condition.

As a VA Accredited Claims Agent, I receive a copy of all of the correspondence from VA that I represent.  This gives me the ability to review each VA rating decision for the men and women who are represented.  We then send a letter to the spouse or veteran explaining what their next move should be.   I also can review the Electronic Claims Folder in the VA Computer system.  While evaluating electronic veterans claims in the VA system, I sometimes find evidence that supports their request for service-connection of a disability.  Recently one of the veterans I was working with had been denied service-connection for a back injury while in the military.  While reviewing his claim, I found a Line of Duty event documenting his back injury.  In my opinion, the VA does not have enough people to review all of a veterans medical and service records completely.  I know how long it takes for me to review every page of their Claims Folder.   One of the things we do daily is request the veterans C-File under the Freedom of Information Act.  When it arrives, we ask the veteran to review every page to determine if there is any evidence that may help prove service-connection of a disability.

Given last week contained a holiday, the amount of mail we received was considerably smaller.  Four veterans received a 100% rating and will annually receive $55,650.  Four veterans received a rating of 10-90% and will annually receive $71,383.  One person was granted a pension and will receive $7,044 per year.  Why not stop by and see what we can do for you or your loved one?

If you would like to donate to Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation, you can do so at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org or mail a check to Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation at P.O. Box 592 Washington, Oklahoma 73093. As a 501-C-3 non-profit your gift may be tax deductible.  We appreciate your support of our nation’s veterans and their families.

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation has food sacks 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 405-550-8806 Extension 103 to request a food sack.

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

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 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. Contact us with any questions by email at dale@dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org.  For telephone assistance, please call 405-550-8806 to listen to our options. For general information dial extension 101, to schedule transportation dial extension 105 or 106.

For help with Surviving Spouse Benefits, dial extension 104, or stop by any Tuesday or Thursday morning. Visit our website at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org. 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, USMC, VA Accredited Claims Agent

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation