The Norman Transcript

May 8, 2013

Cold weather results in lower number of veterans’ claims


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — We recognize a volunteer each week who makes a difference in the lives of fellow veterans or surviving spouses’ lives. This week’s honoree is Gordon Wheeler of Choctaw, who has been with us for more than eight years.

Gordon is married to Bonnie, a member of the Ladies VFW Auxiliary. Gordon also is active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

We have an aluminum wheel chair ramp with hand rails that a veteran or surviving spouse could use. Contact me at 550-8806 if you know someone who needs this.

The cold, wet weather we have been having has lowered the number of veterans and surviving spouses who are making the trip to the Goldsby Community Center for help with their VA claims and questions.

Last week, only 95 men and women needed assistance from volunteers. Of that number, Shirley and her ladies assisted 12 recent widows with their claims for DIC or Pension benefits from the VA.

All of the claims for surviving spouses are handled by the VA Pension Benefits Center in St. Paul, Minn. It usually takes from four months to a year for these claims to be processed by that office. If you are a surviving spouse and need assistance from the benevolence fund while your claim is being processed, stop by for a visit with Shirley.

Fourteen veterans filed their first claims for benefits last week. These veterans were male and female and ranged in age from 22 to 80. Most every veteran will be eligible to receive some type of benefits from the VA when they take the time to visit us on a Thursday.

Five veterans received ratings of 100 percent for their service-connected disabilities. Those with this rating also will be eligible for Oklahoma State Benefits from property tax relief, discounted auto tags, hunting and fishing license ECT. Oklahoma offers some of these benefits for those with a VA Disability Rating of 50 percent or higher. The property tax and sales tax require the veteran to have a 100 percent VA rating for their disabilities.

I have received many calls from readers who served at the Marine Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina since we have started writing about the water contamination at that location. Those veterans whose families were there with them also have significant health problems that could be caused by industrial solvents, benzene and other chemicals.

The VA has started a registry for veterans and family members who were at that base from the mid ’50s to the mid ’80s. The following 15 conditions are the ones you may be eligible for VA treatment for: esophageal cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, multiple myeloma, renal toxicity, female infertility, scleroderma, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, lung cancer, bladder cancer, leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, hepatic steatosis, miscarriage and neurobehavioral effects.

For those who served in the first Gulf War, there also is a registry available at the Oklahoma City VA hospital.

We also encourage those veterans who served in Vietnam and other areas where Agent Orange was used to sign up for the Agent Orange Registry at the Oklahoma City VA Hospital. We have these available each Thursday morning.

We are continuing to look at all options as we move forward with plans to purchase land and construct a building to enable volunteers to provide more service to veterans and surviving spouses. If you have property that would work for the project, contact us, or if you have other ideas, we are open to ideas to improve what we do. John Carter can be reached at 202-1999 or Thursday mornings at Goldsby.

The Veterans Corner benevolence fund continues to be an important tool for us to use assisting the many veterans and surviving spouses who need this service. Last week, we helped a recent widow pay her rent and other types of household needs. We also assisted veterans with gas cards, food and medical expenses. Jerry Baxter can be reached at 833-0773 or stop by Goldsby on Thursday.

We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, with all of your donations being tax free. Donations are accepted for both the benevolence fund and for our building fund. We keep these accounts separate, so please specify where you want your dollars to go when making a donation. Our address is Veterans Corner, P.O. Box 704, Washington, OK, 73093.

Clayton Lee, 684-8860, and our other transportation drivers provide rides to veterans to the Oklahoma City VA Hospital for their appointments. For Norman-area veterans, call Harold Martin at 227-3239 or Robert Root at 919-3008. For the Moore area, call Howard Robertson at 205-4895.

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. Please be there early for us to help you with your claim.

Take time to visit our web address at www.veteranscorner.org. For questions on widows’ benefits, call Shirley at 361-9322. You can contact me at 550-8806 or kdgraham@windstream.net.

Semper Fi.

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