The Norman Transcript

March 20, 2013

Volunteers can aid with hazardous materials, burn pit exposure


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The volunteer of the week is Navy veteran Steve Higgins, the husband of Marilyn one of the ladies who helps with the surviving spouses. Steve’s primary job is to work with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4890. Each week, the men from this post are here to answer questions about the VFW.

There has been a lot of news concerning the exposure to hazardous materials and burn pit sites in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you were exposed to these sites or other types of chemicals, you may have health concerns that need to be addressed. For those of you in the first Gulf War, there is a VA registry for you to sign up for. This is a several page questionnaire and an examination given by the Oklahoma City VA hospital. We have the forms available at Goldsby.

Those of you who served at Marine Base Camp Lejeune North Carolina between January 1957 and December 1987 were exposed to hazardous chemicals in the drinking water from wells that were contaminated. The families and military members will receive medical care for the diseases that are listed.

Another item that we have recently been addressing is the atomic veteran, meaning those who were involved in the testing or cleanup of nuclear explosions. We are filing several claims per week for surviving spouses and some veterans for cancers that were caused by exposure to radiation from nuclear testing. These are filed through the radiation exposure program of the Unites States Department of Justice. The surviving spouses of veterans are being paid $75,000 when we prove the veteran was there and died from cancer. If both parents are deceased the family of the veteran can file the claim for compensation.

A change that many retired military members are not aware of is when a retired veteran receives a 50 percent or higher disability award from VA, it is no longer deducted from their military retirement. In other words they receive both checks without deducting from their retired pay.

Last Thursday there was a slight drop in the number of veterans and surviving spouses with only 134 making the trip to Goldsby. Of that number, 17 veterans had never filed for benefits before, ranging in age from 21 to 92.

Seven veterans received a 100 percent rating for their service connected disabilities. One of the ways that many of them received that rating is by filing for what is called unemployability. A veteran can file for this if he or she meets certain rating criteria such as one disability rated at 60 percent disabling or with one at 40 percent with a combination of 70 percent. Fourteen veterans were approved for VA compensation from 10 percent to 80 percent for their disabilities that were caused or aggravated by military service.

For all of your questions and assistance about veterans benefits, we are at the Goldsby Community Center each Thursday. The doors open at 7 a.m. and sign in sheets are available at 5:30 a.m.

For questions on widows’ benefits, please contact Shirley at 361-9322. You also may send donations to Veterans Corner, P.O. Box 704, Washington, OK, 73093.

You can call me at 550-8806 or email kdgraham@windstream.net.

Semper Fi.

Dale K. Graham is VFW service officer for Post 4890.

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