The Norman Transcript

July 24, 2013

Many who were part of atomic testing are eligible for benefits


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Each week, we recognize one of our volunteers who makes the trip to Goldsby each Thursday morning to do their part in helping our veterans and their families. We are proud to have Mr. Charles Seekings as a volunteer who has been with us for the past three years.

Charles and his wife, Andrea, make their home in Moore. He is a veteran of both the Marines and the Air Force, serving honorably in each branch of the military.  Charles’s wife supports his desire to help all veterans to receive VA benefits that they are eligible for.

Shirley and her crew of ladies who help veterans’ surviving spouses processed 22 ladies for either DIC or pension benefits. DIC recipients will receive around $1,200 per month from the VA. Pension benefits for surviving spouses are based on income levels.

They also filed two radiation claims with the Justice Department for surviving spouses whose husbands died from cancer. We are finding that many of the veterans who were part of the atomic testing were diagnosed with cancer. If a veteran’s cancer was cured, he or she also can file a claim with the Justice Department. Some of their widows will be eligible to receive the $80,000 that is available from the Justice Department.

If the atomic veteran who had cancer and his spouse are both deceased, the children or grandchildren may be eligible to file for the cash settlement. Documentation would be needed showing that they were part of an atomic test or cleanup along with being diagnosed with cancer. Shirley can be reached at 361-9322 to answer your questions.

We assisted 129 veterans and surviving spouses on Thursday. Of this number, 22 were filing their first claims for benefits. Many of these requested service connection for hearing loss and tinnitus. For those who are approved by the VA, veterans may receive a 10 percent rating for tinnitus (ringing in ears).

Veterans who are service connected for hearing loss can be rated from zero percent to 100 percent, depending on the severity of their hearing loss. Veterans can request service connection for any injury that occurred while in the military.

Another common disability would be PTSD or depression. If you were traumatized by something that happened in the military, consider filing for service connection for one of those disabilities.

Each week, I remind our veterans and surviving spouses of the medical issues that many of you face because of the presumptive diseases that chemicals and radiation may have caused. Any veteran who served in the military and has a diagnosis of ALS may be service connected for this disease. If you are the widow of a military member who died from this disease, you are eligible to file for surviving spouse benefits.

For those veterans who served in Vietnam, you may have been exposed to Agent Orange. We have the applications for the Agent Orange Registry available, or you can visit the OKC VA Hospital to obtain one. There are 15 or so diseases that are presumptive to exposure that chemical. These types of chemicals were used in many different areas, not just Vietnam.

Another war that has caused veterans to become ill is the first Gulf War. VA has a registry and examination for all veterans who served in that theater of operations. We have the applications to sign up, or contact the Oklahoma City VA hospital for assistance with this exam.

If you have developed any type of disability from that war, please consider filing a claim with VA for service connection. If you are a surviving spouse of a veteran who served in the Gulf War, please visit with one of our ladies who specialize in DIC benefits. 

The Veterans Corner benevolence fund was used to help several veterans and surviving spouses this last week with rent, medical expenses, utility bills, gas cards and food boxes.

Each month some of you help us to provide these services to our veterans and surviving spouses who are in need.  I would like to say thanks to each of you. Jerry Baxter our treasurer continues to be a good steward of all of the donations that are received.

Each application for assistance is reviewed by at least three people before a decision is made. When a decision to assist is made, no cash is handed out and no checks are written to an individual. Monies are paid directly to the provider when a request for assistance is approved. 

Veterans Corner is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, with your donations being tax deductible.  If a vehicle or other item is donated to us, we issue a receipt showing what the item is. The value of the donated item is decided by the person making the donation. We suggest that the NADA book be your guide to placing a value on your donation.

If you need food or other household items, Sid Smith brings food boxes each week to the Goldsby Community Center on Thursday mornings. He also can be reached at 573-1990 most any time.

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. each Thursday. Sign-in sheets are available at 5:30 a.m. Please be there early for us to help you with your claim. We do our best to process each one in a timely manner, but be prepared to stay a while and please be patient. Take time to visit veteranscorner.org.

We have moved forward with the new technology and now can accept donations directly from credit cards.We are a nonprofit that helps veterans and widows in our community. You also may send donations to Veterans Corner, P.O. Box 704, Washington, OK  73093.

For questions on widow’s benefits, please call Shirley at 361-9322. You can call me at 550-8806 or kdgraham@windstream.net. Semper fi.

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