NORMAN — I hope that all of our readers had a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.
All of us from Veterans Corner want to thank the thousands of veterans and surviving spouses who visited us at the Goldsby Community Center during 2013.
As we assist the men and women who served in the military with their applications for VA benefits, many of us are being helped ourselves. There is a common bond that is shared among many of us who have served in our military.
Congressman James Lankford has introduced a bill for veterans. The bill would instruct the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs to pursue joint purchasing contracts for prescription drugs.
DOD and VA have tested joint purchasing in the past to get the best price for their patients and also save the VA $660 million in 2005 alone. This change in purchasing policy would more than offset the savings from the change in military retiree COLA changes.
The bill also ensures that members of Congress, who retire before the age of 62, will not receive a COLA increase before they hit retirement age.
During 2013, Veterans Corner volunteers assisted more than 6,000 veterans and surviving spouses with their claims and questions about VA benefits. Of that number, several hundred received VA disability ratings of 100 percent for their service-connected disabilities.
Shirley and her ladies processed more than 700 surviving spouses for DIC or pension benefits. Many of these ladies were only receiving Social Security benefits of $500 or $600 before they were approved for widows’ benefits. Most of them were able to double or triple their monthly income.
Last year, more than $120,000 that was donated to the benevolence fund was used to assist veterans and surviving spouses. These services ranged from medical testing, transportation of veterans, propane, fuel, rent, food, household items, meals and a host of other needs.