NORMAN — The volunteer of the week is Gerald Lawrenz of Norman. He is a veteran who served honorably in the Army. He has been a volunteer for the past year. Gerald is married to Danielle.
Last Thursday we had a distinguished visitor that many of you will know from his job as a CNN and ABC War Correspondent, Mike Boettcher. After meeting with him, I felt that he was very sincere in the way that he felt about military members and veterans. He told us that he will soon return to Afghanistan to continue his assignment as an embedded war correspondent for ABC.
I shared a story in January about a local veteran who was recently diagnosed with ALS. Shirley and I had gone to his home to file a new type of claim for him that is supposed to be decided quicker than regular claims. It is called a Fully Developed Claim. This is where we furnish all of the information needed plus a diagnosis from his physician to speed up the claims process. I’m happy to note that we received a favorable decision granting him a 100 percent rating this month. His claim was approved in only 50 days.
Thursday, there were 142 veterans and surviving spouses who were seen by volunteers. Of that number, we helped 21 veterans to file their first claim for benefits. These veterans, both men and women, ranged in age from 22 to 88.
There were 14 widows who were helped by our crew of ladies led by Shirley. Since these ladies have joined our volunteers, my job has gotten easier each week. We are able to help most of the surviving spouses who request assistance with their VA benefits. For those who do not qualify for benefits, the benevolence fund tries to step in to provide many types of assistance. Some of the things we provide are fuel, food, medical expenses, rent and propane for heating.