Manuel Ulibarri, Korean War Veteran
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation
1268 North Interstate Drive Norman, OK 73072
Our office will be closed on Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 22
I hope each of you thought about the men and women who have served or are currently serving in the military on Veterans Day. I commend each one of them for the sacrifices they have made to keep our country free. Without their service, we would not be able to live our lives as we choose in this United States. In today’s world, only one percent or so of our young people serve in the military. To me, it seems there has never been a time when, so few are protecting so many. My hat goes off to the men and women who are taking the fight to those who would destroy our way of life if not for them. As many Americans are not concerned about what happens in other countries, I believe we should have a strong military with the capability to keep every American safe. Each week I meet hundreds of veterans who understand that freedom is not free. If not for our military, we would be in the same position as millions of people are in countries all over the world. I know that everything is not perfect for all Americans and that there are many ways to improve our way of life. I believe that all of us have choices in our life that may enable us to do better than our parents and grandparents. I believe at the top of the list; this includes education, mastering trades, and crafts, and military service. Personally, I chose military service in 1965, and that was probably the best decision of my life. If not for the growing up that military service showed me how to do, I would have never had the opportunities that came along after my service. It looks like I have been doing a lot of meandering on this article today.
Our veteran of the week, Mr. Manuel Ulibarri served in the Korean War as a member of the United States Marines. He was recognized last week our foundation for his service and sacrifice and given a hat representing the Korean War. Thank you, Mr. Ulibarri for your service.
We would like to thank the Edmond Elks Lodge for their donation to our food pantry. Your generosity will help feed many veterans and their families this winter.
Last week many of our volunteers were at annual Joint Services Officer Training (“JSOTS”) training in Midwest City on Wednesday and Thursday. Representatives from the Muskogee VA Regional Office and the Oklahoma City VA Hospital were there to discuss what is being done to improve both Claims and Medical Services for veterans. On Thursday, representatives from the Oklahoma Department of Affairs were on hand to explain the VA Claims process. We appreciate the opportunity to improve our skills to help veterans and their families. With so many of our volunteers in training, we were only able to assist a total of 270 veterans, and surviving spouses with their VA Claims for benefits last week.
Our drivers stay busy every week. They donated 75 hours to transport 29 veterans 1,405 miles last week. We are grateful for all our volunteers and invite you to consider helping us with this very worthy cause. To reach a driver, dial 405.550.8806 and select extension 105 or 106.
Last week we received rating decisions on 57 veterans awarded a 100% rating for their service-connected disabilities. This group of veterans will receive an annual combined amount of $2,171,877 per year. They will also be eligible for other state and federal benefits based on that rating. When a veteran has a service-connected disability such as a knee, and it requires surgery, we request a temporary 100% rating during convalescence. If the veteran is incapacitated for more than 30 days for a service-connected disability VA will usually approve our request. The temporary condition could also be a presumptive cancer that could be service-connected at that rate until the veteran’s condition has improved. There are lots of different ways to help veterans receive the VA benefits for which they are eligible.
We received rating decisions on 60 veterans showing they had received disability ratings from 10% to 90%. This group of men and women will receive an annual combined amount of $963,241 per year. There was one surviving spouse awarded DIC Benefits. That spouse will receive an annual combined amount of $15,397 per year. One of the things we have learned over the years is that we as volunteers should not attempt to adjudicate any veterans or surviving spouses claim. I have seen some service officers tell veterans they are not eligible for anything or that they are receiving the maximum amount for their disabilities. As far as I’m concerned, the Department of Veterans Affairs is the one who decides whether an impairment is service-connected and the percentage it should be and whether money should be paid on any claim. Our job is to guide a veteran or surviving spouse correctly to file for benefits.
Another thing that bothers me is when someone files a request to re-evaluate a condition when it is already rated at the maximum allowable for their disability. That is one of the reasons we encourage veterans to ask their medical providers to fill out the VA Disability Benefits Questionnaire before submitting a claim for re-evaluation. These can then be used to evaluate the severity of their disability compared to their VA rating. We also use these as evidence to support a claim for service-connection of a new disability. I have seen some organizations file for service-connection of six or more disabilities with no evidence. To me, that is a waste of time most of the time. I would much rather use a VA Disability Benefits Questionnaire filled out by a medical provider with a nexus statement attached, along with personal statements from people who knew about the injury or incident. As you can see, I don’t want to waste the time of a veteran or the VA evaluators. Most of the applications for benefits we fill out will be approved by VA the first time we submit them. Anyone who would like to stop by for a cup of coffee to see how we provide services to veterans and surviving spouses have an open invitation to do so. We are a group of men and women whose only mission is to make a difference in the lives of veterans and their families. As always, our services are free for everyone. I believe that we are one of the best organizations in this United States to assist all Veterans and their families.
If you would like to donate to Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation, you can do so at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org or mail a check to Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation at P.O. Box 592 Washington, Oklahoma 73093. As a 501-C-3 non-profit your gift may be tax deductible. We appreciate your support of our nation’s veterans and their families.
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.
Several organizations have services at our location each week. Legal Aid for veterans is available each Thursday morning. Counselors from the Vet Center will be available each Tuesday and Thursday morning to answer questions about their services.
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 at 8:00 a.m. and urge you to arrive as early as possible. Contact us with any questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For telephone assistance, please call 405-550-8806 to listen to our options. For general information dial extension 101, to schedule transportation dial extension 105 or 106.
For help with Surviving Spouse Benefits, dial extension 104, or stop by any Tuesday or Thursday morning. Visit our website at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org. Semper Fi!
As always, I want to say Thank You to all veterans and their families for their service to this United States of America.
Dale K. Graham, USMC, VA Accredited Claims Agent
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation