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March 6, 2013

Veterans should be aware of atomic testing

NORMAN — We are recognizing Air Force veteran Richard Blouin as the volunteer of the week. Richard has been with us for more than a year helping veterans to navigate through the paperwork that is required to file a claim for VA benefits. Richard is married to Ima who supports him in this endeavor.

I wanted to share some information that might be beneficial to anyone who participated in or were near the atomic testing in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. There is a Radiation Exposure Compensation Program that is operated by the U.S. Department of Justice. Many of you who are surviving spouses of veterans whose husband was a part of the atomic testing and died from cancer could be eligible for a one-time payment of $75,000. Shirley and her crew of ladies have been instrumental in helping several local widows to receive this benefit. If the veteran and his spouse are deceased, other family members are eligible to file for the one-time benefit. If the veteran was diagnosed with cancer, he also can file for this benefit. We have a list of many of the locations and names of operations that might apply. I encourage you to call or stop to check on any type of benefits that you may be eligible to receive. These types of claims are filed through the U.S. Department of Justice, not through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

There were more veterans and surviving spouses making the trip to Goldsby Thursday than we could accommodate. We were able to help 163 men and women with their VA claims and questions. We had to turn away 21 who arrived late. The sign-in sheets are available starting at 5:30 a.m. with most of them gone by 7:30 a.m. If we have a full crew of volunteers, sometimes we are able to serve more than the 150 that is our limit.

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