Anthony Brennan, United States Airforce Veteran
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation
Congratulations to our veteran of the week, Mr. Anthony Brennan. Mr. Brennan served in the United States Airforce as a Command Chief Master Sergeant. He served our country for 27 years, from 1989-2017. Thank you for your service, Mr. Brennan.
All of us who volunteer to assist veterans and the surviving spouses of deceased veterans are feeling very proud of what we have been able to accomplish this year at our Veterans Foundation. Each Tuesday and Thursday morning, we are changing hundreds of their lives when they get approved for the VA benefits they are eligible to receive. We receive a copy of all decisions the VA makes, and it enables us to know if we are doing everything we can for them. After we open the decision letters, each decision the VA makes on both the Veterans and Surviving Spouse claims are reviewed one by one. We send a letter to those we represent, explaining what their next step should be in the VA claims process. Last week we met several milestones. The biggest was being able to hold our first Board of Veterans Appeals hearing by video at our building. We can also hold veterans’ DRO hearings by phone at our location. As we move forward our plan calls for us to be able to schedule up to ten BVA Video hearings each day. The BVA staff in Washington DC visited our location recently to access our ability hold those types of hearings. Another record for the year, we received rating decisions this week for 46 veterans who received rating decisions of 100% for their service-connected disabilities. Another big accomplishment for our veterans; over nine hundred have been awarded a 100% disability rating this year.
As we continue to grow, the need for volunteers with computer skills will increase. For those of you who would like to help us make a difference in the lives of the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States Military please stop by to fill out a volunteer application.
Each week I write about the number of men and women approved for VA benefits. As of today, just for the veterans who have been awarded a 100% rating this year is over 37 million dollars. The total for all veterans and surviving spouses for 2019 so far is over 68 million dollars. When we tell you that veterans and their family’s lives are changed every Tuesday and Thursday, you now know what we are saying. I wish we had tracked it this well for the entire 20 plus years. That would be a great number to know!
The veterans’ rating decisions for last week are the following: Forty-six received a 100% rating and will receive a combined annual amount of 1.8 million each year. They will also receive the Oklahoma State Tax benefits of exemption of property tax on their primary residence, sales tax exemption on up to twenty-five thousand dollars in purchases. There are several other state benefits available for those who receive ratings of sixty percent or more. Sixty-six veterans were awarded ratings from 10% to 90% for their service-connected disabilities. This group will receive an annual combined amount of $1,077,073 per year.
Over the many years that we have been helping veterans and their families, we have never charged anyone for our services. Each of us spends hours each week working hard to help others, just for that, to help. I tell each group on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, “If we don’t help each other, no one will.” I remember when we got home from Vietnam and went to the VA for the first time, little did we know that very few of us would receive any assistance from there. As the years have gone by, there is a better system in place to keep veterans from falling through the cracks. Today’s veterans have a much better chance to receive the benefits they are eligible for with options available to them. They can now file for VA benefits six months before they are released from active duty. They also have much better access to health care where they can document the injuries that may have occurred. For those of you who have not visited our location at 1268 North Interstate Drive in Norman please do so. As we are limited to 150 veterans each day please remember to be there very early. We start work at 0400 each Tuesday and Thursday and have usually reached our maximum about that time.
Our services are free to everyone who visits us for assistance with their VA Claims and questions. As a 501-3-C, we have several ways that we raise funds to support our Veterans Foundation. The main one is donations from some of the men and women we have assisted. We also apply for grants and have our automobile donation program where people give us their old cars trucks, tractors motorcycles and other items that can be given to veterans or sold to raise funds to provide our services. There are many ways that we can be helped. On an average month we spend over twenty-five thousand dollars supporting veteran needs. We ask that you give however you are able. You can donate directly on our website or mail to PO Box 592 Washington, OK 73093 Help us serve veterans and their families.
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