When we moved to Norman several years ago to offer our services to veterans and their surviving spouses I never dreamed we would be assisting so many each week. There were more than three hundred who visited us on Tuesday and Thursday for help with their VA claims and questions. As we continue to grow there will be an increased need for more volunteers to join our team of dedicated men and women. We accept volunteer applications each day we are open. A background check is required on everyone before they are eligible to start working with our veterans and their families. With the rise in identity theft going on in this country I don’t believe that anything should be left to chance. Every person who we have helping is essential to the success of what we do to help veterans and their families to receive the VA benefits they are eligible. Some of the volunteer positions available are: Driver, claims writers, typists, greeters, shredding machine operator, letter mail out personnel and kitchen help. Last week our drivers donated more than 60 hours transporting ten veterans almost one thousand miles.
Congratulations to Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation Veteran of the Week, Mr. Lenard Abrahams from Clinton, Oklahoma. He served in the United States Army during the Korean War. Thank you for your service, Mr. Abrahams.
For those of you who have not visited us this is an open invitation to do so. We are a 501 (c) (3) Non-Profit and never charge for our services. As a Non-Profit, any donations made to our organization are Tax Deductible. Without the financial help of the men and women we serve we would not be able to fulfill our mission to help all the veterans and surviving spouses who visit us each week. One of the ways we raise funds is through our vehicle donor program. Many of the people we have helped receive VA benefits end up purchasing that new car or truck they have always wanted and could never afford. Some of them will donate their old one to us instead of giving it to the dealer. We then provide that vehicle for a veteran or spouse in need or sell it to raise funds to support our veterans’ programs. Each month we spend on average more than thirty thousand dollars in direct support to veterans and their families. Expenses include paying for medical testing, rents, food items, transportation, and utility payments along with a host of other unforeseen expenses that happens to all of us.
As we continue to grow, there is a need to start assisting veterans in other states and different locations in our state using our organization as a model for other locations. There are veterans and surviving spouses who have made the trip to see us from forty- five states as of Tuesday when several veterans traveled from Delaware for help with their VA claims. We are very proud of what we do to help make a difference in the lives of all veterans who have served this great nation. Maybe before I meet my maker, we will have satellite locations in many of these fifty states. One of the questions I have repeatedly asked over the years is why some of the other folks who are supposed to be helping veterans are not changing with the times and utilizing the Department of Veterans Affairs own Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQ) when helping a veteran file for benefits. There is one of these DBQ forms for most every disability the VA will grant a service-connection. Many veterans will visit us after they have been denied for a disability because they did not send in a medical diagnosis with their application for VA benefits. All I know is that most of the people we assist in filing for VA benefits will be approved. I know that for a fact as I receive all of the VA rating decisions on the over nineteen thousand we currently represent.
Several years ago, I was approved as a VA Claims Accredited Claims Agent by the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington DC. I also have access to the VABS system on all veterans and surviving spouses who we represent. This gives us the ability to be more proactive in all decisions the VA makes on claims because we can review the evidence and evaluations made by others such as QTC, LHI, and the OKC VA hospital. This ability has given us a step up on what most veterans service officers can do for the men and women they help. This is just one of the reasons we are doing more for veterans and their families than many other groups.
We want to make sure you know we have others onsite helping us help our veterans and their families. Legal Aid received a grant to provide free legal services. They are onsite twice each month. Their next visit will be June 21, 2018. They usually begin around 9:00 a.m. Representatives from the Social Security Administration also come to our Foundation to assist veterans and their families. Their next visit will be June 19, 2018, and they usually arrive by 7:00 a.m.
At some point, we are going to either look for a larger facility or start opening more than two days per week. Until we can train more volunteers and maybe hire a person to be there five days a week, we will continue to turn veterans and spouses away when we reach the maximum in the building per the fire codes. Last week we had reached our limit by 0630. I have started arriving by 4:30 AM or so and I’m certainly not the first person there.
Twenty-six veterans both male and female received a 100% rating for their service-connected disabilities. They will receive an annual combined amount of $1,014,758 per year. Sixty-five veterans received ratings from 10% to 90% for their service-connected disabilities. This group of men and women will receive a combined annual amount of $854,815 per year. Three surviving spouses were awarded DIC, Pension or Aid and Attendance based on their spouses’ military service. The combined annual benefit for this group is $46,192 per year.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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