NORMAN — We are recognizing Billy Prater as the volunteer of the week. Prater has been the Veterans Corner and VFW chaplain since we started helping local veterans and surviving spouses. We depend on him to open each Thursday morning with a prayer for all of those who served in the military and their families.
Prater served honorably in the Air Force for more than 20 years, where he always performed his duties, no matter the location or the job.
On Thursday morning, 154 veterans and surviving spouses were assisted with their claims for VA benefits. Of the total number, 18 were widows who needed help with their claims for DIC or pension benefits.
The DIC benefit may be payable if the veteran died from a service-connected disability or one that is presumptive to military service. Pension is based on the amount of income that a widow receives and when her husband served in the military. Shirley and her helpers can answer most questions that have anything to do with VA surviving spouse’s benefits. She can be reached at 361-9322.
Seven veterans received the 100 percent rating for their disabilities. The men and women who retired from the military and received a 100 percent VA rating will be eligible to receive their retirement and full VA compensation. The VA regulations have changed for the better in the past few years for our military retirees. Oklahoma also offers several benefits for those rated at 50 percent and above.
Nineteen veterans filed their first claims for VA benefits at the Goldsby Community Center. These men and women ranged in age from their early 20s up to 80-plus.
Volunteers used new VA claims forms on nearly every veteran who they assisted. With the new application forms, their applications for compensation or pension should be processed in under 120 days instead of the one year or more that it requires in the current system. I will let you know how soon we receive decisions from the VA using these new forms.
I would like to encourage all veterans and surviving spouses who have Internet service to visit benefits.va.gov/transformation to learn more about Fully Developed Claims. After reading, log on to ebenefits.va.gov to set up an account.
The benevolence fund was used last week to assist veterans and surviving spouses with rent, food, utilities and medical testing.
Treasurer Jerry Baxter continues to keep us in the black in the finance department. With Baxter staying on top of our finances, we will continue to assist those who are in the most distress financially. Baxter can be reached at 833-0773.
Johnny Rhoades, of Noble, laid 50 new bricks along the Walk of Honor at the Goldsby Memorial last Friday. For those of you who have not purchased your brick to be laid along the Walk of Honor leading up to the Veteran Memorials, see Harold Harvell or one of his helpers, JD Kinard or Riley Phillips.
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.
You may send donations to Veterans Corner, P.O. Box 704, Washington, OK 73093. You can call me at 550-8806 or email email@example.com.
Dale K. Graham is service officer for VFW Post 4890.