Gorden Shepard, Korean War Veteran
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation
Congratulations to our veteran of the week, Mr. Gorden Shepard of Cement, Oklahoma. Mr. Shepard served in the Korean War as a member of the United States Marines. Thank you, Mr. Gorden, for your service to our country. He was honored in front of our volunteers and veterans last week and was given a hat to commemorate his service in the Korean War.
We have some excellent news for the veterans and surviving spouses who have a video hearing pending with BVA in Washington DC. Until last year all the hearings were held in Muskogee, Oklahoma meaning the veteran and several of us would spend several hours traveling each way to get there. In January 2019, we were able to move the BVA Video hearings to the Oklahoma City VA Hospital, and later, we were able to start holding those hearings at the Vet Center in Oklahoma City. Last week our organization’s location in Norman was approved to hold all our VA Video hearings for the veterans and surviving spouses who we represent. This is a game-changer for all the people represented by us, as well as our volunteers. This will allow us to spend more time working on their claims and less time traveling to and from hearings. I would have never thought that we would have accomplished so much so quickly after moving our organization to Norman, Oklahoma from the small town of Goldsby. I want to take this opportunity to say Thank You to all of the people who work for the Department of Veterans Affairs who have helped point this organization in the right direction to enable us to do the best we can for veterans and their families.
Personally, I believe it’s straightforward to help veterans with their applications for VA benefits. It can be said in one word: EVIDENCE. If a veteran was injured in the military or has a preexisting condition that was aggravated by something that occurred in the military a link (NEXUS) must be established for what occurred and what their disability is today. I tell everyone that our system for assisting veterans is an evidence-based one. We don’t just list a pile of disabilities and ask for service-connection of them. We ask each veteran to obtain medical evidence from a medical provider showing disability and listing the severity of the condition. By supplying evidence that supports a veteran’s request for service-connection of a disability, it makes the VA employee’s job much easier to make a decision. Most of the time, the VA is still going to send veterans out to see their contract providers for the same evaluation. I can review the contractor’s assessment using my access to the VA computer system, and the majority of the time the VA medical evaluators will show close to the same as the Veterans Disability Benefits Questionnaire we use as evidence shows.
I want to say thank you to those of you who recently donated the following items: farm tractor, car, and a fishing boat. We sold each of these to raise fund to enable us to provide services to other veterans and their families. The only funding we receive is from the men and women who we have helped along with any grants we may receive from business and other non-profits. I want you to know that your gifts are making a difference in the lives of hundreds of veterans each month. On an average month we spend from twenty to thirty thousand dollars supporting veterans and their families. That would not be possible without your help. Thank you from each one of us here at our foundation. As a 501-3-C, we have several ways that we raise funds to support our Veterans Foundation. 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.
Last week, 24 veterans were rated at 100% and will receive a combined total of $939,595 annually. Veterans awarded 100% will receive our Oklahoma State Tax benefits, including no property tax on their primary residence and sales tax exemption on purchases at local stores. Fifty-two veterans were approved for ratings 10-90% and will receive a combined annual $$922,473. One surviving spouse was approved for benefits totaling $15, 829 annually, and one was approved for Aid & Attendance and will receive $3,2016. Congratulations to each of you and we are happy we could help.
Our services are free to everyone who visits us for assistance with their VA Claims and questions. 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