Owen Hurst, Korean War Veteran 

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation

Our Veteran of the week, Owen Hurst served as a member of the United States Navy during the Korean War.  He makes his home in Duncan, Oklahoma as was recognized last week by our volunteers along with veterans and their families for his service to our great country.  A military cap representing the Korean War was presented to him in appreciation for his honorable service.

As the weather continues to warm up, the number of veterans who visit us increases each week.  We are meeting the maximum number of veterans for each day earlier, and some are being asked to return at a later date.  Last Tuesday morning, we had over 160 who had signed in before 6 am.  Thursday morning 145 were there by that same time.  With some of our volunteers off for spring break and the continuing flu season, we had a busy week assisting veterans and surviving spouses.  It appears our success in helping veterans receive VA benefits is going to continue to increase. At some point in time, we will need to find a way to serve all of them who make the trip to our Veterans Foundation.  I believe what we do could be duplicated in other towns and states.  What surprises me most is our ability to help thousands of veterans each year with no funding from the government.  On average, we spend over $25,000 each month to support veterans and their families. Most of our funds come from donations from veterans we have helped along with grants we have received from our area.  As we continue to grow, there is a need for increased funding.  If you would like to help, please contact director Lora Malone at 405-550-8806 Ext 101 for information.

We are also still looking for donors to help with our chair upgrade.  We would like to purchase 36 chairs. For a donation of $300 or more, we will buy five.  We will attach an inscription plaque on the back of one chair for those who want to be recognized. As for any contributions, you will receive a very grateful thank you from our Foundation because through your generosity you are helping us to make this world just a little bit better.   Please contact Lora at 405-550-8806 Ext. 101 or stop by and see us on a Tuesday or Thursday to help with this project.  Thank you.

We are seeing an increased number of veterans from other states who have given up on their local veteran advocates’ assistance.  We have so many coming from out of Texas; we told them were going to build a wall along the Red River.  (Kidding, ha ha we are happy to help)

Last week, 20 veterans received approval for a 100% rating for their service-connected disabilities.  Those 20 veterans will receive a combined total of $793, 419 annually.  Thirty-nine veterans were approved for benefits at the 10-90% rating and will receive a combined $560,270 yearly.  One surviving spouse was approved for benefits and will receive $15,829 annually. We encourage all veterans and surviving spouses of veterans to visit us to see what VA benefits they may be eligible to receive.  Most who visit us for the first time are not aware of what may be available to them based on the veteran’s military service.  There are many diseases presumptive to veterans who served in Vietnam, the Gulf War and at Camp Lejeune.  Veterans who served in parts of Thailand and Korea may have also been exposed to Agent Orange.  The years for presumptive exposure to chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune are from 1953-1987.  There is also a list of presumptive conditions from the Gulf War and possible exposure to Burn Pits.  The bottom line for all veterans is that the VA is not going to knock on your door to tell you about benefits you may be eligible for.  We encourage all veterans and their families to be proactive when it comes to their VA claims and possible exposures.  Some veterans were exposed to radiation and may have been a part of the atomic testing, clean up and received exposure that way or from other sources.  For those veterans who received a certificate from the testing of an atomic device,  if the veteran died from certain types of cancers, the Justice Department has a $75,000 payout for his or her family.  For questions about radiation exposure, please contact Shirley at 405-361-9322.

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, 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.  They ask you to call and let them know you are coming so they can have enough food available.  Their telephone number is 405-456-5184.  The event hours are from 1100 to 1300.  Several of our volunteers plan to be on hand and look forward to joining in honoring you.

Our transportation service for veterans to our location and to VA appointments is a popular program.  Currently, we have three drivers and could use another volunteer to drive one of our vans to provide that service.

We are available every Tuesday and Thursday morning 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