As we move closer to our July 4th Independence Day celebrations, please remember the men and women who have served or are now serving in the military to keep this country free.  As the people of this great country have always been different in many ways from the color of our skin to where our ancestors came from, we have always had one thing in common, and that is we are all Americans.  We will continue to have different ideas on how this country should move forward either to the right, left or in the middle.  I for one believe that our path should be down the center.

Thank you to our Veteran of the Week, Mr. Joseph T. Moore from Oklahoma City.  Mr. Moore served in the United States Army during World War II.  We appreciate his service.

As a VA Accredited Claims Agent for the folks we represent, I’m able to access the veteran’s files in the VA computer system. This allows us to view the evidence the VA upon which the VA relied on to deny a veteran’s claim for benefits.  We then have the information to determine what is needed for the VA to approve the veteran’s application for service-connection of a disability.  Having this option has enabled us to better help more veterans receive VA disability benefits.The veterans and surviving spouses who visit us each week are some of the luckiest when it comes to receiving the VA benefits for which they are eligible.    Two hundred and ninety-one veterans and spouses made the trip to 1268 North Interstate Drive for assistance with their claims and questions last Tuesday and Thursday morning.  We start assisting them by 5:30 a.m. as soon as we have our volunteers and equipment ready.  During the last few weeks, we have been reaching our building capacity by 6:30 am.  We have benches out front for those who did not make it in early enough to be signed in.  As we continue to grow, there will be a need for more people to help us make a difference in the lives of the men and women who have served in the military.  To those of you who would like to be a part of what we do, please stop by for a volunteer application. We could also use another safe driver or two to help Clayton, Terry, and Louie to transport veterans to our location or the OKC VA hospital for their medical appointments.  Last week they spent 71 hours transporting 18 veterans more than 1100 miles.

Last week I received the following rating decisions on the veterans who we represent.  Twenty-one veterans both male and female were awarded a 100% disability rating for their service-connected disabilities.  Those awarded rating decisions ranging from 10% to 90% will receive an annual combined amount of $585,738 per year.  Two surviving spouses were approved for DIC, Pension or aid and attendance benefits based on their veteran’s military service.   They will receive a combined annual amount of $30,795 per year.  There are a lot of positive things happening for our veterans each week at our home in Norman, Oklahoma!

For those veterans who have not stopped by our location in Norman at 1268 North Interstate Drive any Tuesday or Thursday morning, please consider this as an open invitation to do so.  We have 300 veterans and surviving spouses who visit us each week for assistance with their VA claims and questions about VA benefits.  The veterans and surviving spouses we see each week are there because our organization has already made a difference in the lives of their families or friends.  We don’t advertise for people to come to us for help, but someone has referred them to us.  Some of our volunteers have been helping other veterans and surviving spouses for more than twenty years.  The first veteran I helped receive VA benefits was awarded a one hundred percent rating in the early nineties for his wounds and chronic PTSD.  Until his death, that veteran suffered from the physical and mental disabilities that happened to him in Vietnam. I believe that many of the men and women who volunteer with us know that the time they spend helping our veterans and their families is also improving the life of that volunteer.   I have always felt that it is better to make a difference in the lives of others.

As most of you know, we are a 501 (3) (C) Non-Profit and the funds we use to operate this organization come from the people we help or from local grants.  Each month we spend close to thirty thousand dollars in direct aid to veterans and their families. This money is used to pay for the operation of our transportation vans, food items, medical testing, rents, utilities and a host of other unforeseen expenses that many of the people have.   We have several ways that can be used to help us to change the lives of those less fortunate among us.    We have veterans and surviving spouses who are homeless with no hope of ever having a place of their own.  Since we have been helping veterans and their families, we have helped tens of thousands of them to have that hope and to have a place to call home.  At one time I would say to a veteran on their first trip to see us to pick out the color of a new truck that they would like to have.  What we were giving them was hope that maybe their lives would change for the better if they were approved for VA benefits.   Many thousands of the veterans and surviving spouses we have helped over the years were living on social security benefits of under a thousand dollars per month when they visited us for the first time.  Since the beginning of this mission to help the men and women who served in our military we have had thousands of veterans awarded VA Disability Compensation.  Currently, we are close to representing twenty thousand veterans and surviving spouses with their VA applications for benefits. I’m very proud to be a Marine veteran and to be serving other veterans and their families.  We are always looking for a few good men and women to join our team of volunteers at our Veterans Foundation so please stop and have a firsthand look at what we are doing to make this world a better place.

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  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 Semper Fi!