Bill Scott, Vietnam Veteran
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation Veteran of the Week, Mr. Bill Scott served in the Vietnam War as a member of the United States Air Force. He has served as a volunteer for our foundation for many years and just received his VA Accreditation. Thank you, Bill, for all you do for our veterans and their families.
Last week was another excellent one for the veterans and surviving spouses who visit us for help with their VA claims and questions. Two hundred and sixty veterans and family member visited us for assistance last week. As the warmer weather approaches that number will increase to over three hundred each week. Our crew, who are assisting Veterans at the Lawton Vet Center once each month has doubled 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 want 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 to a 100% rating of over $3000 a month. 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 enables most of them to become service-connected by the VA to receive 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.
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. 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. To determine whether you should file a Supplemental Claim or ask for a Higher-Level Review, we are training our volunteers we look to whether the claim NEEDS new evidence. If not, we would recommend a Higher-Level Review. We also select this path when we think a mistake was made. As an example, the VA rules against a claimant based on it finding the claimant did not have an honorable discharge during the relevant time period. If evidence were already submitted that clearly disputes that finding, we would likely recommend a Higher-Level Review. However, if new evidence is needed, we would recommend a Supplemental Claim be filed and include the new evidence. A Higher-Level Review Claim and a Supplemental Claim will both be reviewed by a VA employee. If it is a claim for Higher Level Review, a Higher-trained VA employee will be performing the review and making the decision. No new evidence may be added. New evidence must be submitted with a Supplemental Claim, and the VA will help you gather the evidence. A VA employee will make a decision after reviewing the new evidence.
Our volunteers train every other Monday to keep up with these developments. Having such dedicated well-trained volunteers reduces your wait time and dramatically improves the chances of you presenting a well-documented claim. Thank you for allowing us to assist you.
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 are 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 twenty-five thousand dollars each month on the services 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, along with a host of unforeseen expenses that our veterans and their dependents incur. We also use a lot of printing paper, printer cartridges and other types of office supplies. One expense that is never ending is the cost to mail all the veteran’s claims each week to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Just the mailing is over two hundred and fifty dollars each week. On average we receive over six hundred pieces of mail from VA of that we will send out an average of two hundred 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 continue 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.
In the hundreds of VA letters, I receive each week; we were notified 14 veterans received a rating of 100%. These folks will receive $561,239 on an annual basis. In the category of benefits awarded in the 10-90% range, 29 of our clients were awarded benefits and will receive $356,877 annually.
We are fortunate to have several partners in our efforts to get veterans and their families what they need. One of our partners is the Vet Center, which has locations in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Lawton. They provide counselors on site each day we are open. They also allow us to use their space when we have a hearing before a Judge with the Board of Veterans Appeals. They are planning a celebration of the National Vietnam War Veteran’s Day on Friday, March 29, 2019, 1100 to 1300 at their Oklahoma City office located at 6804 North Robinson Avenue. They are hosting a Vietnam Veterans Commemoration Ceremony. Vietnam Era Veterans and family members are invited. Please contact their office to let them know you are coming so they can have enough food available at 405-46-5184. Several of our volunteers plan to be on hand and look forward to joining in honoring you.
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.
Dale K. Graham, VA Accredited Claims Agent
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation