Alesha Bumgarner, United States Marines

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation

Our veteran of the week, Alesha Bumgarner served in the United States Marines.  She got to ring the bell last week to commemorate her 100% rating decision after navigating the VA forms and processes with us throughout the past year.  Bumgarner makes her home in Moore, Oklahoma.  Thank you for your service, Alesha.  We appreciate you!

There is something to be said about what we do for our veterans and their families when they start lining up at six pm the day before we open.  Over the next few weeks, we will have visitors from other organizations to see how we use the VA Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQ) to supply the evidence needed to support a veteran’s claim for benefits.  These can be used to diagnose and evaluate the severity of most if not all the disabilities that may be service-connected by the Veterans Administration.  Veterans may not be approved for service-connection of disability the first time they file even using the VA DBQ, but we have found it is a great way to start a claim for benefits.  The VA DBQ is used to diagnose a disability.  Many times, when a veteran receives a denial of benefits for claims filed by themselves or others, the VA will send a denial stating there is no diagnosis of a disability.  Some veterans will want to use their military service records that may have shown in injury in service.  That works great if the veteran was discharged within one year of the date they are filing, not so good if it was forty years ago.  When a veteran visits us the first time one of the things we do is to order is military records either from VA if the veteran has already filed a claim, or if they have not filed a claim before we use a Form 180 and order their military service records from the National Personnel Records Center in Saint Louis Missouri.  We are going to do everything possible for each veteran and surviving spouse who visits us at 1268 North Interstate Drive in Norman Oklahoma.  Please remember that we are a 501-3-C  NON- Profit and everyone who helps you with your application for VA benefits is a volunteer who knows that if we don’t help each other it is likely as not that no one will step up in our time of need.

Our auto donation program is helping us pay for veteran transportation to medical appointments along with the cost of medical testing that is needed to support their claims for service-connection of a disability.  During the last several weeks, there have been several cars and trucks donated that we used for that purpose.  One of them we have is still looking for a new home.  It is a 2000 Ford that was first used as an airport shuttle and then by a church.  It has a 7.3 Power Stroke engine that runs well, and I believe it would make a good Hunting or Fishing truck for someone, or the powertrain could be used in a Ford 4X4.  I think those engines were used from the late eighties up through 2003. We are ready to make a deal on that one; we need the parking at our Foundation.

As we draw closer to the end of 2019, it looks like the number of veterans who receive a one hundred percent rating for their service-connected disabilities will set another all-time record.  Last year there were over one thousand disabled veterans who were awarded that rating after our volunteers helped them with their claims.  We are on track to increase that number to eleven hundred or more this year.  This is going to be another great year for the veterans both men and women who visited our Veterans Foundation for help with their VA Claims and questions.

Last week we had 34 veterans rated at 100%, and as a combined group they will receive $1,315,531 annually.  Sixty-four veterans received ratings 10% to 90% and will get a combined annual $930,947.  Three surviving spouses were approved for benefits and will receive a combined $47,485.  One spouse was granted Aid & Attendance and will receive $8,963 annual and another was granted Pension and will receive $9,072 a year.

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.  Our line starts as early as 4 a.m.

Visit our website at 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.

Semper Fi!

Dale K. Graham, VA Accredited Claims Agent

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation