We have reached another milestone in what we do for the men and women who have served in the military.  Between January 1 and June 30, 2018, our volunteers have assisted more than four hundred disabled veterans to receive a rating of 100% for their service-connected disabilities.  There have been thousands of veterans who have received disability ratings from 10% to 90% during this same six-month period.  Moving our Veterans Foundation from Goldsby to Norman has enabled us to make a difference in the lives of more than ten thousand veterans and their surviving spouses each year.   We are very excited to be making a difference.  For those of you who have not visited us on a Tuesday or Thursday morning the doors open at 5:30 a.m. As we usually reach our building capacity before 7 am, we encourage early arrival.

Our veteran of the week is Mr. Robert Reed of Choctaw who was a member of the United States Army. He served in the Korean War.  Our guests and volunteers celebrated this fine member of our U.S. Military and presented him with a hat representing our gratitude for the sacrifices he and his family made for our country.

A person seeking benefits gets notified by a letter, usually called the Award Letter.  Since becoming an Accredited VA Agent, copies of these award letters are sent to us as well as the claimant.  This allows us to not only share in the joy when awards are granted, but these letters also help us understand the “why” of a VA decision.  We are then better equipped to help guide the claimant toward a higher VA rating where it is warranted.  In the mailbag this week we received letters announcing the latest decisions for those we help.  There were 24 receiving a 100% rating.  These folks will receive $919,381 on an annual basis.   In the category of 10-90%, we got notified that 38 folks would be receiving $528,488 on an annually.   To learn more about how you could be among these recipients, please stop by any Tuesday or Thursday morning.  Please remember – our services are FREE.Last Thursday Oklahoma City VA Homeless program brought seven veterans to us for assistance with their VA claims.  After reviewing their DD-214 discharge and other records, we filed a 21-0966 Intent to File for VA benefits for each of them.  We then sent each of them to an audiologist for an approved VA hearing test to be used as evidence to support their request for service-connection of hearing loss and tinnitus. When they get approved for VA benefits for that disability, they will have a little walking around money in their pockets.  A ten percent rating for Tinnitus will give a veteran $133 per month.  This is not much money to many of us yet if you are homeless it would be a bright spot in your life. The hearing loss can be rated from 10% to 100% depending on the severity of that condition.   Over the years I have found this is one of the quickest ways to help a veteran become service-connected for a disability.  A VA hearing test is one that uses the Maryland CNC speech discrimination test.  Since most veterans were exposed to the acoustic trauma of gunfire or other types of deafening noises, the VA says it is presumptive that many of them will suffer from Tinnitus and hearing loss.  One of the requirements for veterans being eligible to receive compensation for hearing loss is their speech discrimination must be below 94% using the Maryland CNC exam.  If you have ever fired a pistol or rifle and your ears started ringing, then you probably have tinnitus.  Some of us have had that condition since military service, and we know when it started.  Mine started when I was at Artillery Hill in Vietnam when 175 Howitzer began firing while we were positioned right in front.

One of the ways that we raise funds to support our mission is our vehicle donation program.  Some of the veterans we have assisted will purchase a newer car or truck when they get approved for their benefits.  Some of them will donate their old vehicle to our organization to be given to other veterans or sold to raise funds to support our programs that make a difference in the lives of other veterans.  As a 501 (c) (3) Non-Profit all donations may be tax deductible.  If the vehicle is sold, the monies raised are used to support veterans and their families with rents, food items, and transportation to their VA appointments.  Last week our drivers volunteered 64 hours transporting 18 veterans more than 1,000 miles.  Our funds are also used to pay for the medical testing to support a veteran’s claim for service connection of a disability.  As we have always said if a veteran does not have evidence that supports his or her request for service-connection of disability the VA will probably deny their request for benefits.  During the last twenty-eight years, I have seen many veterans who went to their deathbed being denied for service-connection of disability by VA.  Most people who are trying to help veterans do not understand that just because the veteran tells them that they were injured in the military unless they submit evidence to support their claim most of the time the application is going to be denied. There are some veteran’s claims that may be approved if their disability is presumptive to their job in the military.  I have found it is much easier to help a veteran or surviving spouse of one to receive VA benefits if evidence to support their request is filed with the claim.  This evidence could be a diagnosis of a condition, buddy statement, or newspaper articles supporting the veteran’s statement that something happened.  Of course, those medical records from your military service certainly help if they are available.  Most of our veterans over sixty or so do not have any of their military records.

Another area that is difficult for some is VA benefits for the surviving spouses of veterans who did not file a claim for benefits.  It is difficult to help these ladies if the veteran did not have a service-connected disability or one that was presumptive to their military service.  Surviving spouses of veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and died from one of the presumptive diseases may have an easier route to receiving DIC benefits.  If one of the presumptive diseases is listed on the veterans Death Certificate as a contributing factor, benefits may be payable.  For those Surviving Spouses approved for DIC, they will receive from $1250 to $1500 each month.  We had reviewed many VA decisions that show Surviving Spouses were approved when the veteran’s service-connected conditions such as hearing loss, tinnitus, depression, PTSD or many other conditions were listed on the veteran’s Death Certificate.

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.

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 morning 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 as soon as we reach the quota for the day, and that time varies depending on the number of visitors and the number of available volunteers, which usually occurs around 8:00 a.m.  Contact us with any questions by email dale@dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org.  For telephone assistance, please call 405-550-8806 to listen to our options.  For help with Surviving Spouse Benefits, Shirley can also be reached at 405-361-9322, or stop by any Tuesday or Thursday morning. Visit our website at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org. Semper Fi!