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.
During the last several weeks we have met veterans from many different states who have heard about what we have done for other veterans and surviving spouses of veterans. Thursday morning one of them from Washington State was telling me that while he was fishing up there, he met a veteran named Bernie who told him about how we had helped him with his VA claims. Needless to say, he drove his old pick up all the way down here to Norman, Oklahoma to ask for help with his VA claims. As he only had enough money for gas, the truck served as his sleeping quarters also. His current VA disability ratings were high enough to be eligible to file for unemployability. After we finished filing his claim, we thanked him for his military service and wished him a safe trip back to Washington. I am glad we were able to help him and hope other volunteers will do what we do across the country, so people like Bernie don’t have to come so far for help.
Our Veteran of the week is Mr. Billy Chisum, a Korean War veteran who served our country as a member of the United States Air Force. Last Tuesday we presented him with a cap representing his service and introduced him to our audience. Thank you for your service, Mr. Chisum.
As a 501(c) (3) Non-Profit we operate this Foundation from the donations we receive from the people we help and from local grants from organizations who understand thousands of veterans and their families need our services. We do not charge for our services and have never done so. If a veteran wants to support what we do it is their choice to help or not to help their fellow veterans and their families. Currently, 10% of the men and women we have assisted will give back to help make a difference in the lives of other veterans and their families. As we spend more than $25,000 each month providing direct support to veterans, your help is needed monthly for us to continue to be a viable organization. Many of you have been the recipient of assistance for rents, medical testing, food items, utility payments, and car repairs. Please think of the countless other veterans and their families who also need assistance with these types of needs. We have been trying to make a difference in the lives of the men and women who served this United States, and with your help, we will continue to do so. If anyone ever tells you that there is a charge for what we do, please tell us who that person is as we would like to set them straight. People have been saying that for more than twenty years, and we are still looking for someone who has actually paid for our services. The fact is I, as well as many of our volunteers, have spent thousands of dollars from our own pockets to help veterans and their families. I believe all organizations and volunteers who help veterans and their families should be working together to improve the lives of all men and women who have served in the military. I know there are hundreds of thousands of veterans in Oklahoma who are not receiving the VA benefits for which they are eligible. It seems to me we should all be trying to reach all of them before they are gone. Our small organization can only take care of fifteen thousand or so of them each year. I would think it should be the large organizations such as the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs and other National Veterans Organizations to make sure all veterans receive their VA benefits.
As many of you know, we are in Norman, Oklahoma at 1268 North Interstate Drive. The doors are open 0530 to 0800 each Tuesday and Thursday morning, and the first 150 or so veterans will be accepted. There are more than 300 veterans and spouses who are currently being assisted each week. Those who arrive after we have reached the maximum number will be asked to return the following Tuesday or Thursday morning. Currently, we have helped veterans from all 77 counties in Oklahoma and 45 other states. If you need a ride to visit us, please contact one of our drivers. They can be reached at 550-8806, extension 105 and 106. Last week they spent 66 hours transporting 19 veterans 1,065 miles.
As an Accredited VA Claims Agent, I receive a copy of all correspondence that VA sends to the veterans and surviving spouses I represent. Each week there will be hundreds of pieces of mail that are reviewed by us and notification letters sent to those who need to know what their next step is in the VA claims process. Last week there were 31 decision letters awarding veterans a 100% rating for their service-connected disabilities. Those veterans will also be eligible for the Oklahoma State Tax Benefits such as sales tax exemption, property tax exemption on their primary residence, two reduced cost on auto tags and other state benefits. Their spouse and dependents may also be eligible for the Champ-VA Insurance if they are not retired military. Their dependents may also be eligible for the education benefits which can help them to afford a college education. This group of 31 veterans will receive a combined annual income of $1,210,156.20 per year. We are very proud to have been able to help these men and women receive their VA benefits. It looks like we have made a huge difference in the lives of a lot of Veterans and their families. There were also 38 veterans both male and female who received VA disability rating from 10% to 90% for their service-connected disabilities. This group will receive a combined annual payment of $577,321 per year. Those rated 60% and higher will also be eligible for Oklahoma State Fishing and Hunting licenses. They will also be eligible for two auto tags at a reduced rate.
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 at 8:00 a.m. and urge you to arrive as soon 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