The Norman Transcript

May 15, 2013

Surviving spouses encouraged to seek assistance with Veterans Corner


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — All of you who have stopped by Veterans Corner on a Thursday morning will recognize the volunteer of the week.

Ray Stelting, of Tuttle, has been with us for three years. His primary job has been keeping the coffee prepared for the 100-plus men and women who we see each Thursday morning. Ray is the first to start and one of the last to leave each week. He is always ready to help with any job that we may have. Ray is married to Diana, of the home, who supports his mission to support our veterans.

Last week, 107 veterans and surviving spouses stopped by for assistance with their VA claims and questions. Of this number, 13 widows needed help filing for DIC or pension benefits.

For the surviving spouses, I wanted to give them a little information that might help them to know if they could qualify for DIC benefits. If their veteran served where any atomic testing was done or helped with the cleanup and died of cancer or was ill with it, they may qualify for VA benefits. If the veteran and spouse are both deceased, their children or grandchildren may be eligible to receive a lump sum payment from the Justice Department.

For the spouses of veterans who served in Vietnam, there may be VA benefits that are payable to them from the Department of Veterans Affairs if they became ill or died from any of the presumptive diseases caused by exposure to Agent Orange.

Another disability that might be presumptive for some would be lung cancer or COPD for veterans who served aboard Navy ships and were exposed to asbestos. Some surviving spouses could qualify for a VA pension that is based on income. For those who are in assisted living, nursing homes or who have people assisting them at home, aid and attendance benefits may be available from VA.

If you have questions, Shirley’s number is 361-9322 or mine is 550-8806.

Nineteen veterans filed their first claims for VA benefits. Several of these had just recently returned from their assignments overseas. I encourage all veterans to spend a morning with us talking about the benefits that may be available from VA.

We were able to assist several veterans who received a 100 percent rating for their service-connected disabilities. Jerry Baxter takes care of those who receive this rating, with help from his wife, Joan, Bill and Gracy Taylor, from Asher.

Jerry also takes care of the benevolence fund. Veterans Corner spends thousands of dollars on veterans and surviving spouses each week, with a lot of this going for medical expenses. We also use the benevolence fund to help with rent, transportation, fuel and a multitude of other needs.

Sid Smith has prepared boxes of food and other household items that are available to those who need the service. He can be reached at 593-1990 or he also is available each Thursday morning at the Goldsby Community Center.

Recently, we have had several veterans who are in wheelchairs request transportation to their VA appointments. To fulfill this need, the benevolence fund was used to purchase a used handicap-accessible van from Reynolds Ford in Norman. I have made an appointment with Sheehy Signs on Monday for the Veterans Corner decals. As soon as it is finished, I will take some pictures for the website.

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, call Clayton to set up a driver. For Norman area, 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. Our doors open at 7 a.m., and sign-in sheets are available at 5:30 a.m.

Please be there early for us to help you with your claim. Take time to visit our web address, 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. You may also send donations to Veterans Corner, P.O. Box 704, Washington, OK 73093. You can call me at 550-8806 or kdgraham@windstream.net.

Semper Fi.

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