The Norman Transcript

July 17, 2013

Volunteers assist 154 with VA claims and questions


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Each week, we recognize one of the volunteers who assist veterans and surviving spouses to obtain the VA benefits they are eligible to receive from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The men and women who make their way to Goldsby each week have earned these benefits when they served the United States.

This week, we are recognizing William (Pat) Pattillo, of Noble, as the volunteer of the week. Pat has been a part of Veterans Corner the past several years.

After the center was closed on July 4, 154 veterans and surviving spouses needed assistance with their VA claims and questions last week. Of this number, we assisted 16 surviving spouses (widows of veterans) who were applying for DIC or pension benefits. The DIC benefits may be paid to a surviving spouse if the veteran dies from a condition that is service-connected or one that is presumptive to military service. Pension may be payable based on income and other factors.

If you know of a surviving spouse of a veteran, stop by for a visit with Shirley or one of her helpers about possible benefits. Shirley has several ladies who specialize in assisting the wives of military veterans. She can be reached at 361-9322.

We assisted 18 veterans who filed their first claims for VA benefits. These men and women are looking at from four months to a year before their claims are finalized by the Department of Veterans Affairs office in Muskogee. I encourage all veterans to stop by for a visit with one of our councilors about possible benefits.

Many of the men and women we assist do not know about the benefits that they may be entitled to receive from the VA. If you served in the National Guard, Reserves, Merchant Marines or any of the other branches of service, you may qualify for VA benefits. We are a free service that is provided for all veterans and surviving spouses at the Goldsby Community Center most every Thursday morning.

Only one veteran received a rating of 100 percent for their service-connected disabilities this week.

Seventeen veterans received VA ratings ranging from 10 to 90 percent for their service-connected disabilities. These veterans also will be eligible for VA medical care after their claim is approved. When a veteran’s claim is approved, there is a date stamped on the left side of the decision. One year from that date, the veteran can ask for a re-evaluation of any service-connected disability.

The Veterans Corner Benevolence Fund has been spending more money than is being donated to us lately. We provide assistance to many veterans and surviving spouses from the funds that are donated each week by the men and women who we have helped.

Treasurer Jerry Baxter is doing a great job stretching each dollar as much as possible. It seems that we are seeing an increase in the number of people who need assistance from everything from rent to doctor expenses.

If you decide to be a part of what we are doing, please feel free to stop by any Thursday morning. We are a 501(C)(3) nonprofit, with your donations being tax deductible. We also accept cars, trucks and handicap items as donations to be given to veterans or sold to raise funds. Baxter can be reached at 833-0773.

If you have not visited with Harold Harvell or his helpers, JD Kinard or Riley Phillips, about a brick along the Walk of Honor leading up to the memorials, please do so. They also have many types of military hats that are available for sale each Thursday morning. Harold can be reached at 596-8755.

The book of veterans’ stories by Dr. Kami Day also is available for purchase either from Harold Harvell or online at Amazon.

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.

Veterans Corner has two vans, one of which has a wheelchair lift to transport veterans to their VA medical appointments. We also have two drivers who use their personal cars to transport veterans to VA appointments.

If you need a ride or know a veteran who does, call Clayton Lee, 684-8860, to set up a driver. For the Norman area, call Harold Martin at 227-3239 or Robert Root at 919-3008. For the Moore area, call Howard Robertson at 205-4895. This is a free service that we provide for those veterans who are unable to provide their own transportation.

For all of your questions and assistance about veterans’ benefits, we are at the Goldsby Community Center each Thursday. Our doors open at 7 a.m., and sign-in sheets are available at 5:30 a.m.

Take time to visit our web address, veteranscorner.org. You 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.