The Norman Transcript

March 6, 2013

Veterans should be aware of atomic testing


The Norman Transcript

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.

Of that total number of veterans, we saw last Thursday there were 23 veterans who filed their first claim for VA benefits. There were 13 widows who filed for DIC or pension benefits. There were six veterans who received a 100 percent rating for their service connected disabilities. We also assisted 16 veterans who were recently awarded ratings from 10 percent up to 80 percent for their service connected disabilities. The best part of my Thursday is when one of the surviving spouses or those who receive a 100 rating stop by for a handshake or hug from one of the volunteers. There is not a Thursday morning that I don’t see a tear of happiness and relief from those whose lives we have helped to change. If you have any questions about survivor benefits or Atomic Radiation Exposure, call Shirley at 361-9322 or me at 405-550-8806.

The benevolence fund was used to help several veterans and surviving spouses with medical expenses, utility, rents and other needs last week. Sid Smith provided boxes of food and other household items that he makes up each week. If you need this type of assistance, he is available each Thursday morning at the Community Center or at 593-1990.

For those of you who have not ordered a brick for your veteran, I encourage you to consider one. There is not a week that goes by that I don’t see people taking that Walk of Honor leading up to each of the three black granite memorials. Harold Harvell, along with our brick layer Johnny Rhodes of Noble, has laid more than 1,000 bricks along and around the walk leading up to the memorials. Harold can be reached at 596-8755 or he and his helpers, JD Kinard and Riley Phillips, are available most every Thursday morning at the hat sales counter in the Goldsby Community Center. They also have the “One hundred stories from Veterans Corner,” written by Dr. Kami Day on sale.

Clayton Lee, 684-8860, and the other transportation drivers provide rides to veterans to the Oklahoma City VA Hospital for their appointments. For the Norman area veterans, call Harold Martin at 227-3239 or Robert Root at 919-3008. For the Moore area, call Howard Robertson 205-4895.

For all of your questions and assistance about Veterans benefits we are located at the Goldsby Community Center each Thursday. Our doors open at 7 a.m.

Take time to visit www.veteranscorner.org.

You also may send donations to Veterans Corner, P.O. Box 704, Washington, OK 73093. You can call me at 550-8806 or email kdgraham@windstream.net.

Semper Fi.

Dale K. Graham is service officer for VFW Post 4890.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.