William Parsley, World War II Veteran 

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation

Each Tuesday and Thursday we recognize a veteran who served in either WW 2 or the Korean War.  As these two groups of veterans are becoming fewer as each day passes we wanted to introduce them to the veterans and their families who are visiting us that day.  We present a military type cap representing their War to each of them on their first visit.  Many of them have said to me that they had never been recognized for their military service before. I have seen some of them have a tear in their eye as we stood them up before our volunteers and other veterans as we presented their new cap to them.  Any of you that served in either one of those wars and have not been recognized by us, please visit us early any Tuesday or Thursday morning in Norman, Oklahoma at 1268 North Interstate Drive.  For your convenience, we start seeing veterans and surviving spouses by 05:30 or earlier on both days.

This week we honor World War II Veteran, William Parsley of Durant as our veteran of the week.  Mr. Parsley served as a member of the United States Marines.  Thank you for your service, sir.

Last week was another very good one for the veterans and surviving spouses who visit us for help with their VA claims and questions.  With the weather conditions not being very pleasant, there were only 260 who visited us for assistance.  As the warmer weather approaches that number will increase to over 300 each week.  Our crew, who are assisting Veterans at the Lawton Vet Center once each month has increased in size from two to four volunteers.  As Lawton has many military retirees in their area, I doubt if we will run out of veterans needing help with their VA claims for benefits.  I would like to find several volunteers who live in that area to consider joining our team that visits there each month.  We know that there are hundreds of thousands of veterans and their families in Oklahoma who need the financial assistance and VA Health Care that comes with the approval of their claims for VA benefits.  Compensation payments for a service-connected disability begin with a 10 % rating of $133 a month, to a 100% rating of over $3000 monthly.  We usually start a claim for hearing loss and tinnitus for most veterans since most of them were exposed to some very loud noise while in the military.  This will enable most of them to become service-connected by the VA to receive the VA Health Care and a small monthly payment.   Many veterans have applied for VA Health Care and were told they do not qualify because they make too much money. When they are approved for that service-connected disability the health care door is opened for them.  Some of the veterans who visit us are only interested in the VA Health Care that comes with the approval of a service-connected condition.  The cost of health care along with prescriptions has forced some veterans to be unable to afford medical care.

For those of you who would like to give back to others less fortunate, please consider joining our team.  Our volunteers don’t have to wonder if they are making a difference in the lives of others, they can see it in the faces of the hundreds of men and women who visit us each week for help with their VA claims and questions.  Applications are available for those who would like to become a volunteer with our organization.  A background check is required for everyone who is approved to be a volunteer with our organization.  As a 501-3-C Non-Profit, there is no charges for the services that we provide.  Many times, people will ask what they can do to help our organization provide the many services that are needed by those we serve.  Currently, we spend approximately $25,000 each month on the services that we provide.  Some of these are medical testing, transportation for veterans to the VA hospital or to our location, medical expenses, food items, utility payments, and rent along with a host of unforeseen expenses that our veterans and their dependents incur.  We use a lot of printing paper, printer cartridges and other types of office supplies.  A never-ending expense is the cost of mailing all the veteran’s claims each week to the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Just the mailing is over $250 each week.  On average, we receive over 600 pieces of mail from VA weekly, and in return, we will send out an average of 200 letters to veterans telling them what is needed to continue their claims process.  We have a wish list available for those of you who would like to bring consumable items that are used daily.  We also accept the donations of cars, trucks, motorcycles tractors or other items in running condition that can be given to veterans or sold to raise funds to help veterans.  As the number of veterans and surviving spouses we help continues to grow, the cost to provide our services will also continue to grow.  Please consider helping us to provide for those who have served our nation in the military.

Each week I review the rating decisions received from the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Last week, we were notified ten veterans received a rating of 100%.  These folks will receive $388,627 on an annual basis.  In the category of benefits awarded in the 10-90% range, 33 of our clients were awarded benefits and will receive $546,409 on an annual basis.

A couple of weeks ago, I told you the VA created new forms designed to speed up the appeals process. As you know, during your visit with us we create several VA forms for you.  We prepare a VA Form 21-22a that allows me to serve as your representative.  A Form 21-0966, called an Intent to File is filled out that provides notice to the VA that you will be pursuing a benefit claim.  With this form, a start date is established, and you have a year in which time to gather evidence in support of your claims.  When you return to us with your evidence, we help present the claim by typing two forms – a 21-526EZ and a 21-4138 on which we explain the nature of the claim and the evidence supplies.  We then wait while the VA reviews the submitted items.   During the VA’s review process, you may be contacted for an appointment with a VA doctor, or one of its VA Contract Doctors working with QTC, LHI, or VES.  When the VA’s review process is completed, the VA will issue a decision written as what we call an Award letter.  The letter sets out the VA’s reasoning as well as the details of the award decision, such as amount, effective date, whether the veteran is single or has dependents, etc.

When you disagree with the VA’s ruling, you may request the VA take action.  To do so, we will now be using the VA’s new forms.  The new forms appear to match the recent voluntary process known as RAMP (Rapid Appeals Management Process).  Through RAMP, and now using a new form, a claimant may request a Higher-Level Review that uses the same evidence previously submitted.  The VA says following this path it expects to have a decision ready in about 125 days.  As alternative also available at this same stage, through RAMP, and now using a new form, you could file a Supplemental Claim using new evidence.  The VA also hopes to have a decision ready in about 125 days.  A claimant could also elect to seek an Appeal through a Notice of Disagreement and have the claim before the Board of Veterans Appeals.  This path is the one that has always been available.  The VA expects it will take about 365 days to have a decision for an appeal following this path.

We are available every Tuesday and Thursday mornings 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.  We stop taking clients at 8:00 a.m. and urge you to arrive as early as possible.

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.

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