Nonprofit grows number of assisted veterans, spouses

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Volunteers at Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation give many hours to help veterans and their families.

Thank you to veterans and their families who have done so much for this United States of America. Without the sacrifices the men and women who served in our military have made for us, this country would not have continued to survive. When we look at the many countries around the world where people have no control over their lives and face hunger every day, our country looks pretty good.

I also would like to take this opportunity to say that without the financial support from the people we serve, what we do would not be possible.

The number of veterans and surviving spouses who visit us each Tuesday and Thursday morning at 1268 N. Interstate Drive in Norman continues to increase weekly. Every day more veterans and surviving spouses arrive than we can accommodate.

Our goal is to assist the first 140 veterans each day. That number is being reached before our doors open at 4 a.m. or so. Daily, 30 to 50 veterans are asked to return on another Tuesday or Thursday morning. We are doing everything possible to provide services to every veteran who needs our assistance.

Some of our volunteers have assisted veterans 14 hours or more on many days. As most of us are retired, those long days are more than we want to have. We are looking to start bringing volunteers in from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to relieve some of those who began to work at 4. This might help us accommodate more veterans and surviving spouses. For those of you who are late sleepers, that start time might be just the ticket for you. Those interested in becoming a part of our group, contact Lora at 550-8806 or stop by any Tuesday or Thursday morning.

Last week, we assisted 325 veterans and surviving spouses with their VA claims and questions at our foundation. Many of them made their first trip to Norman from other states. There were so many from Texas that we told them that we were going to build a wall along the Red River. Seriously though, I am hoping some of the veterans who travel to Oklahoma will use our evidence-based claims system to help us make a difference for veterans and surviving spouses in their area.

This week, we will try to track the number of out-of-state veterans who visit us for assistance. I'm curious to see what the percentage is and the different states they are from. One reason we have so many people coming to see our volunteers is the sharing of social media and our emails that are forwarded to so many people.

Each week, our newsletter is sent to 15,000 of veterans and spouses we have helped, and from there, it is forwarded by you to others. We thank you for telling your friends about us and hope we can be of some help.

This week, 37 veterans received a 100 percent rating for service-connected disabilities. That group of men and women veterans will receive an annual combined amount of $1,416,749 per year. They also will be eligible to receive many other benefits from our state of Oklahoma, with the biggest being the property tax exemption on primary residence in our state.

One surviving spouse was approved for DIC, pension or aid and attendance based on their veteran's military service and will receive $15,828 annually. Surviving spouses whose veteran was not retired from the military may be eligible for the Champ-VA medical insurance if they are approved for DIC. We also see surviving spouses whose spouse's death certificate lists a service-connected disability as a contributing condition.

We have been reading some of the medical studies that have been done linking hearing loss to heart disease and dementia. We have had cases approved where the veteran was service-connected for hearing loss and later died from either heart conditions or dementia. There are many ways we can help veterans and their families, if they only knew about them.

Our organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that relies on donations. We accept the donation of cars, trucks, motorcycles or other types of items that can be given to veterans or sold to raise funds. Donations should be tax-deductible on income taxes. You can also donate at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org or by mail at P.O. Box 592, Washington, OK 73093.

We have power wheelchairs and scooters that have been donated. If you know a veteran who needs one, contact us.

Counselors from the vet centers are here each session, and a Legal Aid representative is here on Thursdays. We have food baskets available for those who qualify.

We are available every Tuesday and Thursday morning. We open doors by 5:30 a.m., and we begin working as soon as volunteers have computers ready. People are lined up as early as 4.

Visit dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org for more information and visit Frequently Asked Questions. You also may call 550-8806 for information or to schedule transportation.

As always, thank you to all veterans and their families for their service to the United States of America.

Semper fi.

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation is not affiliated with any other organization. Dale K. Graham is a VA accredited claims agent.

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