The Norman Transcript

February 12, 2014

Snow, ice doesn’t deter 50 veterans, surviving spouses


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — We are recognizing Harold Harvell as the Veterans Corner volunteer of the week.

Harvell is an Air Force veteran and takes care of the veterans memorial along with his other duties, including selling hats, bricks and other fundraisers. He has been with Veterans Corner since 2009. He and his wife, Shirley, reside in Goldsby.

The snow and ice we had last week did not keep more than 50 veterans and surviving spouses from making the trip to Goldsby for assistance with their claims for veterans benefits.

Three veterans received VA ratings of 100 percent for their service-connected disabilities. These men and women also will be eligible for the Oklahoma State Tax Benefits that was approved by the Legislature several years ago.

If you know of a veteran who is service-connected above 50 percent, they may be eligible for some state benefits, also. These could include free fishing and hunting license and reduced price for auto tags.

Only those who receive the 100 percent VA rating are eligible for the Property Tax Exemption, Champ-VA medical insurance for dependents and commissary privileges.

Five veterans filed their first claims for VA benefits. There are two ways that we use to file for VA benefits on most of the men and women we assist.

One is an informal claim; this is used to establish a start date for VA benefits. When a VA claim for benefits is approved, the payments start one month after the claim is filed. Many times, the veteran or surviving spouse will need to obtain medical evidence or records before submitting a claim for benefits.

When this information is received, we then assist them to file what is called a fully developed claim. By using this system that the Veterans Administration has implemented, the time it takes for them to make a decision should be significantly reduced.

Another very important part of this new system allows the veteran or surviving spouse to establish a premium account through the VA website, E-Benefits. With this account, the user can view all of the information in their VA file. If information or evidence is needed, the user can upload it from their computer. For assistance setting up a premium account, the VA has an office in at the federal building in Oklahoma City or at the VA regional office in Muskogee.

Shirley and her helpers assisted seven surviving spouses with their claims for DIC or pension benefits. We assist surviving spouses from Oklahoma and many other states. Currently, we are assisting them from Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Massachusetts and California. For more information, call Shirley at 361-932.

Money from the benevolence fund was used to pay for a motel room for the spouse and sister of a disabled veterans who was undergoing surgery at the Oklahoma City VA Hospital. We also supplied them with gift cards to pay for meals at the hospital.

Last Thursday, we ran out of food boxes. We gave several families a $50 gift card from Wal-Mart.

Jerry Baxter used the benevolence fund to pay for propane for several of veterans’ surviving spouses. It also was used for medical expenses, medical testing, gas cards and veterans’ needs.

We continue to need volunteers to help us provide the many services veterans and surviving spouses need. We are always looking for ways to improve what we do each Thursday morning. If you have an ideas, call or email your suggestions.

Three vans are used to transport veterans to their VA appointments. One — driven by Howard Martin, , 227-3239 — is equipped with a wheelchair lift. Clayton Lee, of Dibble, can be reached at 684-8860.

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. Visit veteranscorner.org.

Donations for the benevolence fund may be sent to Veterans Corner, P.O. Box 704, Washington, OK 73093.

Donations for the building fund may be sent to Veterans Corner, c/o Dale Graham, P.O. Box 722160, Norman, OK 73070.

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

Semper Fi.

Dale K. Graham is the service officer for Veterans Corner.

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