Terry Barrett, United States Army Veteran
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation
Congratulations to our veteran of the week, Mr. Terry Barrett. Mr. Barrett served our country as a member of the United States Army. He makes his home in Norman, Oklahoma. Thank you, Mr. Barrett. We appreciate your service.
We continue to see veterans and surviving spouses who are traveling very long distances to meet with our volunteers for assistance with their VA claims for benefits. Last week, a young Marine veteran came from Kenya, where he was serving as a Missionary, for our assistance with his VA claims. We also had veterans from Virginia, California along with many other states who wanted us to represent them with their VA claims.
Each Tuesday and Thursday morning, we are assisting over 150 veterans each day. Some of those who visit us are looking for a place to stay for a few days, and we would like to establish a link with some of our Norman Hotel and Eating Establishments willing to give discounts to the veterans who going to be in town for our assistance. If you or someone you know is in the hotel business in Norman and you can help us help our veterans, please contact Lora Malone at 405-550-8806 Ext 101.
As we move closer to the end of 2019, there have been many changes at our Veterans Foundation. One of those that will be coming soon is the addition of the office next door, which will give us the space to expand our operation. We will be able to add more volunteers and workstations to help us to accommodate the increased number of veterans and surviving spouses requesting help with their VA claims. One of the questions we get asked frequently is there a place like ours in other states that helps veterans and their families like we do. I always tell them there are service officers in every state who try to help them. The only problem being is no one else that I know of uses the VA Disability Benefits Questionnaire filled out by their medical provider as evidence to support a veteran’s claim for service-connection of a disability. By using this type of evidence and other medical evidence to support a request for service-connection of disability most veterans’ claims will get approved. Anyone can fill out a VA Form 21-526EZ application for service-connection of a disability and file for VA benefits, but most will get denied if some type of evidence with a nexus is not included to support their request. Some disabilities may be approved without sending in new evidence if their military service shows an injury that occurred, or they have a presumptive condition to their military service. Personally, I like to do it right the first time by providing the evidence needed to support a veteran’s claim for service connection of a disability.
One of the things that we try to let veterans know is that if their service-connected disability is listed on their Death Certificate as the primary or contributing cause of death, dependents may be eligible for DIC benefits. Sometimes the attending physician who signs the certificate will not know about any of the veteran’s disabilities; this means that the spouse and dependents will probably not receive the VA DIC benefits. One of the most common we see is veterans who are service-connected for hearing loss at the 100% rate and then die from a heart attack. There are many documented studies showing hearing loss can cause or contribute to heart attacks. My suggestion to veterans is to make sure your family and your physician are aware of your service-connected disabilities.
Last week we had 19 veterans approved for a 100% rating for their service-connected disabilities and will receive a combined annual $777,252. These men and women will be eligible for our Oklahoma Tax Benefits package that includes sales tax relief, property tax exemption, reduced auto tags, free hunting and fishing license, and the exemption of excise tax on vehicles once every three years. Forty-eight veterans were awarded disability ratings from ten to ninety percent for their service-connected disabilities. They will receive an annual combined amount of $716,698 per year. Four surviving spouses were awarded benefits and will receive a combined yearly $66,675.
As most of you know, we are a 501-3-C Non-Profit, which means our services are free to everyone who we assist with our services. We operate on the donations from individuals, business or grants that we receive. Our budget each month to provide services such as rents, utilities, transportation, and medical expenses for the men and women we assist is over twenty-five thousand dollars. This equates to over $300,000 per year in services to veterans and their families. For those of you who want to help us help others, please consider becoming a donor. Your gifts should be tax-deductible. You can donate directly on our website or mail to PO Box 592 Washington, OK 73093
We have four transportation vans we use to transport veterans to their VA appointments. Our pantry also has food sacks big enough to feed a family for a week at a time. These are available to those in our community who are doing without. We want to do everything possible to make a difference in the lives of the men and women who served our country.
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.
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.
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