Happy New Year from all of us at Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation.
As we approach the end of another year, I am happy to tell you our foundation is growing more than I could have ever imagined. Currently, we are assisting 150 veterans and family members each Tuesday and Thursday morning at 1268 North Interstate Drive in Norman. We have leased the building next door to enable us to add more volunteers which will in turn increase the number of people we serve each day we are open.
We have been approved by the Board of Veterans Appeals to host video/conference hearings at our Norman location with the BVA judges in Washington, D.C. for the men and women we represent. Previously, we were driving to the Regional VA Office in Muskogee, a six-hour round-trip, or to the Oklahoma City Vet Center. This approval truly makes a difference and saves us and our veterans time and money.
In 2019, more than 1,300 of our veterans have been approved for 100% disability rating. Our foundation has helped over 25,000 veterans and their family members apply for benefits throughout the years. We set a goal in early 2019 to have 1,200 approved and we surpassed that goal!
We have partnered with Navy Federal Credit Union, Tinker Federal Credit Union, counselors from the Oklahoma City and Lawton Vet Centers, and Legal Aid to ensure each veteran receives the assistance they need. Personnel from these organizations are available each Tuesday and Thursday morning.
We have veterans traveling to see us from 49 states and six other countries. The veterans who have traveled the longest distance this year were from Kenya, Africa, and Beijing, China. It is amazing how far word-of-mouth about our organization reaches. We have never paid for advertisement of our services, because as you know we are free to all and do not ever charge for what we do.
The following changes are happening soon:
• Some Blue Water Veterans' service-connected disabilities presumptive to Agent Orange exposure should be approved starting January 2020. This is going to affect tens of thousands of veterans who were previously denied benefits. If you or someone you know is a Blue Water Veteran and have previously been denied, please come see us as soon as possible. Surviving spouses are encouraged to return to us to follow up on possible benefits, too.
• The Department of Veterans Affairs has prioritized the Appeals Program from the old Legacy Appeals to a modern system. They are currently working to reduce the backlog of veterans appeals [Notice of Disagreement].
If you would like to help us make a difference, we welcome your support. We spend over $25,000 each month in direct support of the veterans and family members we serve. As you know we are a non-profit and are wholly dependent on donations from the people we serve and local grants. We accept donations of vehicles that can be given to veterans in need or sold to raise funds to continue our mission. You can shop items from our Amazon charity list to stock our food pantry, and shop AmazonSmile with us as the charity -- we will receive 0.5% of your eligible purchases. If you are interested in including us in a bequest please contact Lora at 550-8806, ext. 101. Monetary donations can be made online or mailed to PO Box 592, Washington, OK, 73093. Visit our website at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org.
We are actively seeking volunteers to help with our endeavor. Our volunteers can tell you, not only do you help make a difference in someone else's life, it can change yours as well. Please contact Lora or come visit us on a Tuesday or Thursday morning.
If you need a ride to and from a VA medical appointment or our Foundation, call 550-8806, ext. 105 for Clayton or ext. 106 for Louie.
We appreciate your support of our nation's veterans. We look forward to 2020 and hope to see you soon.
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation is not affiliated with any other organization. Dale K. Graham is a VA accredited claims agent.