The Norman Transcript

August 28, 2013

Volunteers assist 125 veterans file VA benefit claims


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — This week, we are recognizing a Marine who has assisted a great number of veterans during the six years he has been a volunteer with Veterans Corner.

Gerald Ashley, who resides in Oklahoma City, makes the drive to Goldsby each week to help veterans. He has been recuperating from an accident where he broke his ankle. We are hoping he will be back on the job within a week or so.

Last Thursday, volunteers helped 125 veterans and surviving spouses with their claims. Twenty-three filed their first claims for VA benefits Thursday.

Of the total number, five veterans received a rating of 100 percent for their service-connected injuries. Some of those who received that rating were injured in the military, while others may have developed a disease that is presumptive to military service. These presumptive diseases could be any of the 15 or so diseases that Agent Orange is presumed to have caused to veterans who served in Vietnam.

Veterans who were part of the atomic testing and developed cancers may receive benefits. If they are deceased, there may be benefits for the spouse or children. If the veteran has any documentation showing they were part of the test or cleanup, consider stopping by for a visit with Shirley or Patti for assistance in filing with the Department of Justice or with the VA in some cases.

Each Thursday, Shirley and her team of volunteers see the consequences of what men and women in the military were exposed to while in the military. We are averaging 22 surviving spouses each week who are applying for VA widows benefits. If their husband served in Vietnam and then died from one of the presumptive diseases, the surviving spouse should receive DIC benefits. Those whose husbands served in the Navy on ships that were using asbestos as insulation, and then died of lung cancer, may be able to receive DIC.

For those who need food items, Sid Smith has food boxes prepared each Thursday.

We have three transportation vans that are used to transport veterans to their VA appointments. One of these is equipped with a wheelchair lift for veterans who need this service.

The driver who has been with us the longest is Clayton Lee of Dibble. I asked him if he would transport veterans to their appointments in the 2008 Chevrolet van when we first started this service. Needless to say, he is still on the job and has transported hundreds of veterans to their appointments safely. He can be reached at 684-8860. 

Our other drivers are Howard Martin, of Norman, and he drives the wheelchair accessible van and can be reached at 227-3239; Robert Root, of Norman, can be reached at 919-3008; Howard Robertson lives in Moore and can be reached 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 veteranscorner.org.

For questions on widows’ benefits, call Shirley at 361-9322. You also 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 of VFW Post 4890.