Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation Veteran of the Week, Mr. Marland Wackerly served in the United States Navy during World War II.  We are very proud to have been able to introduce him to more than one hundred of his fellow veterans and to present him with a new cap representing his military service during that War.  Thank You, Mr. Wackerly, for your sacrifices during military service to this United States of America.

Over the year, many of you have heard me say many times that as veterans if we do not help each other the chances of receiving assistance when needed is not going to happen.   Last week’s rating VA rating decisions certainly back up that statement.  We set a record this week and were notified 23 veterans were awarded a 100% disability rating for their service-connected disabilities.  Our volunteers were instrumental in making that happen. Without them, that level of success would not have been achieved. This group of veterans will receive an annual combined amount of $884,950 per year.  They will also be eligible for our Oklahoma State property tax benefit, sales tax exemption, and reduced auto tags. Twenty-two veterans were approved for disability ratings from 10% to 90% for their service and will receive a combined total of $311,619 per year.   One surviving spouse was approved for DIC and will receive an annual income of $15,397.My favorite part of each Tuesday and Thursday morning is when we have our Pledge of Allegiance to our American Flag and a few words from Pastor Gann.  He is an Army Veteran who knows what it means to serve in the military of this United States.  As I watch the men and women stand to place their hand on their Heart or raise their hand in salute to our flag I see some of them struggling to stand upright and at attention.  Many of them have probably not stood at attention in the last fifty years.  Some of them have that glint of a tear in their eyes as they remember their military service.  I know this to be true as I have the same feelings and thoughts of the men and women we serve.  I am proud to be an American and part of this organization which helps so many.

Your financial support to our organization makes it possible for us to assist veterans and surviving spouses to live a better life.  Some of these services to veterans and their surviving spouses are rental assistance, food items, utility payments, medical testing, and transportation.  We have four Vans used to transport veterans to and from their VA medical appointments.  We now have a Handicap Accessible Van that is primarily used to transport veterans who use wheelchairs.    To schedule this service, please call 405-550-8806 and speak to Lora.   Each week there are more than a dozen requests for this type of transportation service.  We are currently seeking another caring individual who would like to be a driver and become part of our transportation team. Another service we have available to veterans and their spouses is our loan of electric wheelchairs, mobility scooters, walkers, bedside toilet equipment, and wheelchairs.  These types of items are donated to our organization where we will make them ready for service before loaning them to veterans or their spouses. We have several electric wheelchairs and one or two scooters.  The most common problem with those we refurbish is the replacement of batteries that will average $160 per unit.  Currently, we are looking for electric scooters to add to our inventory.   We keep a few hydraulic lifts that are used to pick up a person out of a chair or bed as needed.  Also available are some handicap bathroom items such as shower chairs, and other types of items.

One of the recent VA rating decisions was on a Surviving Spouse who was awarded DIC benefits retroactive to 2013.  This lady from Idaho received over sixty thousand dollars.  She was very happy she made the trip to Oklahoma, so our volunteers could help with her VA claim for benefits.  Two of these volunteers are themselves Surviving Spouses of Vietnam veterans who died from exposure to Agent Orange.   Over the years, we have assisted hundreds if not thousands of surviving spouses of veterans who served in that country.   Those of you who know others who lost their spouse after they had served where Agent Orange was used, please ask them to visit us.  This goes for both men and women veterans who were exposed to those chemicals.  Over the years we have been able to assist surviving spouses of veterans in receiving DIC benefits whose spouse died from a disease that was presumptive to exposure to a chemical such as Jet Fuel if they were diagnosed with leukemia or to asbestos that caused Lung Cancer.   In my opinion, countless surviving spouses and dependents might qualify for VA benefits if they only knew that their veteran was exposed to certain types of chemicals.  Some veterans were exposed to different types of Radiation in the military that may have caused a type of cancer that could be presumptive to their military service.  One we don’t talk about much is from the cancers caused by Atomic testing that was done many years ago.  The Justice Department has a $75,000 pay out that the veteran or his dependents might qualify for if he or she was diagnosed with one of the presumptive conditions.  For more information on Atomic Veterans, please visit us any Tuesday or Thursday morning with your questions.

Our Board of Directors is made up of Community Leaders from the areas that we serve.  Their lifetime of Leadership experience has brought many positive changes to our organization.  They are made up of men and women who understand the sacrifices the men and women who have served our nation made and what their needs are today.  I would like to Publicly say Thank You to each of our Board members who are helping us make a difference in the lives of veterans and their families:  Jeri Holmes, James Marlon, Marilyn Kaplan, Les Nunn, David Poarch, Joshua Hinkle, Darla Jackson, Ben Robinson, and Shelli Ribaudo.

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 mornings 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 dale@dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.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!