Many of you have asked how many veterans we assisted last year who received a 100% disability rating for their connected service disabilities; the totals are in.  We had 316 veterans awarded a one hundred percent service-connected disability.  These veterans both male and female will receive a combined annual amount of more than 18 million dollars per year.

As a 501-3-C Non-Profit corporation, we use your donations to support our mission of making a difference in the lives of veterans and their families.  Some of you have been helping through donations of cars, trucks, and motorcycles. We can give these to veterans in need or sell them to raise funds.  The proceeds from the sale of these items have provided us with resources to help families suffering from the bitter cold and have money to cover the costs of medical testing for the evidence needed to support a VA claim for benefits.

For more information on how you can help, please stop by our office at 1268 North Interstate Drive in Norman any Tuesday or Thursday morning.  To become a volunteer with us, please stop by to fill out a volunteer application.  A background check is required for everyone who applies.

Our Veteran of the week was a man who did everything he could to help others.    Mr. William (Pat) Pattillo went to meet his heavenly father last week after a long illness.  Pat served in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.   Many of you who have visited us in Norman will remember Pat as a very knowledgeable person who always did his best to help every veteran he met to receive the VA benefits for which they were eligible. Pat was a person who cared for others even when he was ill.  Pat volunteered his time with us for many years until his illness required him to slow down and take it easy.  Thank You, Pat, for being my friend!

As the cold weather reduced the number of veterans and surviving spouses who visited us last Tuesday and Thursday I look for a full house this week.  There were only 198 veterans who braved the cold to see us for help with their VA claims and questions. For many of them, it was their first time to apply for VA benefits even though they were in their late eighties and nineties.  They are finding out that it is costly to get older as we need more help doing the things that were once very easy for us.  One of the things I hate to see is for a couple who have worked hard their whole life, and then one of them needs extra care that they cannot afford.  Sometimes we can help a veteran to service-connect an injury that occurred in the military that may help out financially enough to allow them to keep their assets.  Did you know that if a veteran is approved for a service-connected disability of 70% or more they are eligible to stay in one of our states veteran’s facilities for free?  There are countless ways to receive VA benefits.  It is a lot easier to receive these benefits if veterans apply before their health deteriorates to the point they are unable to be evaluated for a disability.  For instance, to be approved for service-connection of hearing loss and tinnitus the veteran is required to take a hearing test provided by a VA contract provider.  Some of the veterans’ families who visit with us have waited until the veteran is unable by physical or mental disability to take a hearing test.   The one thing I do not want to say to anyone is that we can’t help them because they waited too late to file for VA benefits.   Most of us have had that philosophy that nothing is going to happen to me.  VA benefits are available to most everyone who served in the military.  During the years that I have been assisting veterans and their families to receive VA benefits, I have found that the only people who usually lose their claim for benefits are the ones that quit trying.  With the availability of VA DBQ (Disability Benefits Questionnaires) to use as evidence to support service-connection of a disability, you should not have a huge problem. Another thing we have not written about recently is a NEXUS letter which is a statement that provides a link to something that occurred in the military to a condition you have today.   An example might be when a man or woman suffered MST (military sexual trauma) while in the military.  The VA has both a DBQ for MST and a VA form 21-078A that is used when filing a claim for benefits based on MST.  During the time that we have been helping veterans, I have helped many men and women who were victims of MST while in the military.  We have Mental Health Providers who can help with a diagnosis of this disability.  Years ago, I would only see a few veterans who were suffering from MST, but today it seems like we get someone in every week.

As a VA Accredited Claims Agent, I received the following VA rating decisions last week.  There were 11 veterans awarded a 100% rating for service-connected disabilities.  These men and women will receive a combined annual amount of $439,809 per year.  Fourteen veterans received VA rating decisions from 10% to 90% for their service-connected disabilities.  They will receive an annual combined amount of $213,950 per year.  Four surviving spouses were approved for DIC, Pension or Aid and Attendance based on their spouse’s military service.

Our volunteers who provide services to the surviving spouses of deceased veterans continue to make a difference. When a surviving spouse is approved for DIC, that person will receive from 1250 to 1500 dollars each month. Some may be eligible for Pension benefits and Aid and Attendance.

We invite you to stop by to see us and allow us to answer your questions about veterans and surviving spouse benefits.  For those of you who would like to join our organization as a volunteer, I guarantee it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you have ever known.  Our volunteers, including me, have found a way to give back to others.  All of us look forward to Tuesday and Thursday mornings where we can do it again week after week.  Our drivers, Clayton and Louie, spent 58 hours this week transporting 16 folks 1,177 miles.  As we continue to grow, we hope to add more days to our weekly schedule to serve the thousands of veterans and surviving spouses who have never applied for VA benefits.

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 of 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!