Leslie Guttery, Veteran of the Week

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation

Today we recognize Mr. Leslie Guttery as our Veteran of the Week.  Mr. Guttery served honorably in the United States Military and got to ring the bell last week for his 100%.  Thank you for your service, Mr. Guttery.

We are reaching the maximum number of veterans and surviving spouses every Tuesday and Thursday.  We will only be able to accommodate the first 150 in line.  We open the doors as soon as we have enough volunteers onsite to begin processing claims.  We are looking at ways to increase the number of veterans and their family members we can accommodate each week.  Some of us are volunteering over 12 hours each day to ensure each visitor is taken care of.  If we were getting paid to do this job, we would most definitely be racking up the overtime.  I receive calls, messages, and emails from veterans who live from the East Coast to the West Coast and many states in between wanting to know if we have an office in their state.  Many of them plan a trip to our location in Norman, Oklahoma, for a meeting about their VA claims.  I do not know why other veteran organizations who help veterans and their families with claim assistance are not using our evidence-based claims system.

We have found that by supplying the evidence needed to support a veteran’s application for service-connection of disability the VA will most likely approve them.  One of the ways we have found that does help a veteran to service-connect a new disability or to show one has increased in severity is by using the VA Disability Benefits Questionnaire.  These forms are filled out by the veteran’s medical provider.  The Department of Veterans Affairs uses the DBQ forms to evaluate a veteran’s disabilities.  We believe if the VA uses them, the veteran should be able to submit their DBQ as evidence in support of their application for service-connection or an increased rating.  I am very concerned about the men and women who are turned away each Tuesday and Thursday morning when we reach the maximum we can accommodate.  We are open for suggestions on ways to improve our services to the men and women who served our country’s military.

As a VA Accredited Claims Agent, we receive a copy of all rating decisions and other communications the VA sends the veteran.  Each decision the VA makes is reviewed, and we send a letter explaining what steps to take next.  One of the benefits of receiving these decisions is that we can know what we are doing and can keep track of what is working for veterans and surviving spouses.  I can honestly say our volunteers are making a difference in the lives of the men and women who served in the military.  One of the ways people learn about the success of those we assist is the number of rating decisions we receive each week.  Fourteen veterans were rated at 100% and will receive a combined annual total of  $511,426.  This group of veterans will be eligible for the state benefits Oklahoma provides to veterans found to be totally disabled service-connected to their time in the military.  We had 47 rated between 10-90%, and those veterans will receive a combined annual income of $674,582. Those rated 60% and higher are also eligible for some of the Oklahoma State benefits.  One surviving spouse was approved for benefits and will receive $15,829 a year.

One of the best changes the VA has made is allowing veterans and surviving spouses to have their video hearings in a secure setting at the OKC VET Center with a veteran law judge in Washington, D.C. Previously, we were required to hold all hearings in the Muskogee Regional VA Office which required veterans and Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation representatives to spend five hours traveling for a 15-minute hearing.  In the last six months, we have attended over 100 hearings before a veteran law judge.  Last Friday, we were able to represent seven veterans using the new video hearing system.  One of the hearings was a three-way video hearing with a veteran in San Antonio, the judge in Washington, and us in Oklahoma City.  The VA is working very hard to process hundreds of thousands of veteran claims in the appeals process.  This is another way which will help alleviate he backlog in these appeals.

For those of you who would like to join our team of volunteers, please stop by any Tuesday or Thursday for an application.  On OSBI background check is required on each volunteer.

Please remember everything we do is at no charge.  We spend over $25,000 a month in direct support of veterans and their families.  All donations go to provide transportation, help pay for DBQ Exams, food items, rent, and other unforeseen needs of our veterans and their families.

Our organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that relies on donations to be able to provide services to the thousands of veterans and their families who need assistance.  We accept the donation of cars, trucks, motorcycles, or other types of items that can be given to veterans or sold to raise funds to provide for veteran’s needs.  Please remember that your donations should be tax deductible on your income taxes. Thank You for supporting our Foundation.  You can also donate anytime online at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org or by mail at PO Box 592 Washington, OK  73093.

We have power wheelchairs and scooters that have been donated.  If you know a veteran who needs one, please contact us.

Counselors from the Vet Centers are here each session, and a Legal Aid representative is here on Thursdays.  We have food baskets available for those who qualify.  We look forward to your visit and thank you for trusting us to help you with your VA matters.

We are available every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 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.

Visit our website at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org for more information. There you will find a section on Frequently Asked Questions.  You may also contact us at 405-550-8806 for information or to schedule transportation.

As always, I want to say Thank You to all veterans and their families for their service to the United States of America.

Semper Fi!

Dale K. Graham, VA Accredited Claims Agent

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation