The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — This week’s volunteer of the week is Gordon Wheeler, of Choctaw. He has been making the weekly trip to Goldsby for the last seven years. His can-do attitude has helped hundreds of veterans receive the VA benefits that they are entitled to. Gordon is married to Bonnie, who is a member of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary.
Last Thursday morning, 133 veterans and surviving spouses were signed in by 7 a.m., ready to be assisted by our volunteers. We place 150 sign-in sheets at the front door of the Goldsby Community Building at 5:30 a.m. each Thursday. Most of the time, we are finishing everyone’s paperwork by 11:30 a.m.
Thirteen veterans were here to file their first claims for VA benefits. Several of these young men and women reminded me of what we looked like just out of high school. Guess I’m just getting older and the young ones are looking younger. We try to give as much information as possible about VA benefits to each person who makes their first trip to see us.
We have prepared a 20-page handout titled “Veteran’s Corner Inc.” that is given to each person on their first trip to Goldsby. Many of your questions about VA benefits will be answered by reading this packet. If you want to stop by and pick one up any Thursday, they are available at no cost to you. For those of you who would like one but can’t make the trip, you can request one by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it by snail mail. I want each of our veterans or surviving spouses to receive all of the VA benefits that they are entitled to.
Shirley and her crew of lady volunteers assisted 21 surviving spouses last week. Several of these ladies were applying for DIC benefits (payable when a veteran dies from a service-connected disability or one that is presumptive). There also were some who were applying for pension benefits based upon their income and medical expenses. They also assisted two ladies whose husbands were part of the atomic testing. Their claims are going through the Justice Department.
The Department of Veterans Affairs hosted training Tuesday on filing Fully Developed Claims. We took 30 of our claims writers to the Muskogee Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office for this training.
When the system is fully implemented, we will be able to file veterans’ claims electronically. If the system works as it should, the wait time between filing and having a decision made on your claim should be cut in half.
Jerry and Joan Baxter assist those veterans who receive a 100 percent rating from VA for their service-connected disabilities. Last week, six received that rating for the severity of their service-connected conditions. They also assist those surviving spouses who are granted DIC benefits. Their job is to help them file for their Oklahoma State Tax Benefits, Champ-VA Medical insurance for the spouses and the veterans life insurance when applicable.
Veterans Corner has started a building fund with plans to build a facility where we can do more for the community than we currently are able to provide one morning a week using the Goldsby Community Building.
We are very grateful to Mayor Cindy Scott and the town council for welcoming the many thousands of veterans and their families who have made the trip to Goldsby for assistance with their VA claims.
We are looking at all options on the funding for this new facility from federal grants to donation from private individuals. John Carter is our go-to guy for the project and can be contacted at 202-1999 or any Thursday morning at the Goldsby Community Center.
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.
Veterans Corner has two vans, one of which has a wheelchair lift to transport veterans in need of a ride to their VA medical appointments. We also have two drivers who use their personal cars to transport veterans to VA appointments.
Call Clayton Lee, 684-8860, to set up a driver. For the Norman area, veterans can call Harold Martin at 227-3239 or Robert Root at 919-3008. For Moore, 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 located at the Goldsby Community Center each Thursday. Take time to visit veteranscorner.org.
If you would like to be a Veterans Corner sponsor, we are a 501(C)(3) where your donations should be tax deductible. Donations can be sent to Veterans Corner, P.O. Box 704, Washington, OK 73093.
You can call me at 550-8806 or email me at kdgraham@windstream.
Dale K. Graham is service officer for VFW Post 4890.