NORMAN — Volunteer of the week is Tony Wangler, who is an Air Force veteran. Tony has worked with Al Ingle for three years helping to keep our printers and Internet connections up and running each Thursday. Tony and his wife, Linda, make their home in Spencer.
Last Thursday the parking lot at the Goldsby Community Center was full by 7 a.m. There were more than 150 men and women who needed assistance with their VA claims. Of this number, we were able to help nine veterans who were recently awarded a 100 percent rating for their service-connected disabilities.
There were 14 surviving spouses who were helped by Shirley and her caring team of ladies. Some of these ladies will be eligible to receive either DIC or Pension benefits based upon their deceased husband’s military service. I encourage all of the surviving spouses to call Shirley at 361-9322 or me at 550-8806 or stop by Thursday mornings to talk the possibility of receiving VA benefits. Those ladies who are eligible for DIC may receive up to $1,400 per month. For those who are eligible for VA pension, the amount is based on their income and other assets.
Volunteers were able to help 28 veterans file their first claim for benefits. As slow as the VA is in making decisions on these claims, it will be six or eight months before any of those 28 receive any benefits. We were able to assist 16 veterans who had recently received ratings from 10 percent to 70 percent for their service-connected disabilities.
This last week, we had two veterans come in who were recently diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). This disease is one that is presumptive to military service. If a veteran served 90 days of active duty and is diagnosed with this disease 50 years later, the VA will service connect.
The benevolence fund continues to be an important part of what we are about when it comes to helping veterans and their families. Sid Smith is our go-to guy for food or other household items. He can be reached at 573-1990 or visit him on Thursday morning. Last week, there were several men and women who were helped with medical expenses. We also were able to provide assistance for fuel, rents, deposits and other needs.