NORMAN — Today we are recognizing a veteran who works behind the scenes, Robert Bovee, the webmaster for the Veterans Corner site. Robert also worked as a volunteer claims writer before his job transferred him to Alabama. All of the members of his family — wife, Stephanie, son, Dylan and daughter, Cassidy — volunteered with us before he and Stephanie were transferred. Robert continues his duties as the webmaster in his new location.
One hundred thirty-five veterans and surviving spouses braved the cold weather last Thursday for assistance with their VA claims and questions. Of this number, 18 filed their first claims for benefits.
I have asked many of our older veterans why they waited so long to file a claim. The most common answer was they either didn’t know about VA benefits or they did not want to ask for help. My answer to all veterans and surviving spouses is to stop by and visit with our volunteers. The Department of Veterans Affairs is here only to provide services for the nation’s veterans, spouses and dependents.
Shirley and her ladies assisted nine surviving spouses with their claims for DIC or pension benefits. They also assisted several in filing for the Aid and Attendance benefit, for those who were in need of this type of help.
Many times veterans or surviving spouses are doing without needed assistance because they do not know help may be available from the VA. If you are a wife of a veteran or a surviving spouse, stop by on Thursday or call Shirley at 361-9322 or me at 550-8806.
We also were able to assist 20 veterans who received ratings from 10 percent to 90 percent for their disabilities that were aggravated or caused by military service. Treasurer Jerry Baxter and his helpers assisted seven veterans who recently received a 100 percent rating from VA for their service-connected disabilities.
Those who receive that rating will be eligible for all of the state benefits, including reduced car tags, free hunting and fishing licenses, sales tax relief and property tax relief. Their spouse and dependents also will receive the Champ-VA Medical insurance if the veteran is not retired military.
Goldsby Veterans Memorial continues to be an important part of Veterans Corner. Harold Harvell and his helpers, JD Kinard and Riley Phillips, continue to make improvements to the memorial. We are planning to have Johnny Rhoades, of Noble, lay another 33 engraved bricks next week along the Walk of Honor leading up to the memorials. If you have not purchased yours, please see Harold or his helpers.
Last week, I announced that we have helped more than 1,000 veterans receive a rating of 100 percent for their disabilities that were caused or aggravated by military service. This means that volunteers helped veterans receive more than $36 million in VA benefits each year in the state.
Part of this accomplishment was made possible by the volunteers who want to make a difference in the lives of veterans and their families. The Regional Department of Veterans Affairs office in Muskogee is the other half of our success. Without their can-do attitude and the Oklahoma work ethic, we would not have accomplished these numbers. Many of the claims that we help veterans file in other states will languish for years before any decisions are made by their VA Regional Office.
The benevolence fund spends an average of $2,000 each week to help veterans and surviving spouses with medical expenses, food items, transportation costs and other related household expenses. Sid Smith provides food boxes to those veterans and surviving spouses who need this service.
If you need this service, call Sid at 573-1990 or stop by any Thursday morning at the Goldsby Community Center.
Many of you have called about what we are doing with the fire truck at the Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart stores. The main reason is to let people know that Veterans Corner is here to help them in filing for VA benefits. The fire truck also is used as a fundraiser for the VFW Post 4890 and Veterans Corner benevolence fund.
Clayton Lee, 684-8860, and the other transportation drivers provide rides to veterans to the Oklahoma City VA Hospital for their appointments. If you need a ride or know a veteran who does, contact Clayton to set up a driver. Norman-area veterans can call Harold Martin at 227-3239 or Robert Root at 919-3008. For the Moore area, call Howard Robertson at 205-4895.
For all of your questions and assistance about veterans benefits, we are at the Goldsby Community Center each Thursday. The 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 also send donations to Veterans Corner, P.O. Box 704, Washington, OK 73093.
You can email me at kdgraham@windstream.
Dale K. Graham is service officer for VFW Post 4890.