We are waiting patiently for our board of directors and the City of Norman to give us an opportunity to return to our mission of helping the men and women who served in the military of this United States of America. We believe that all veterans and their families deserve the best when it comes to assisting them with their applications for VA benefits.

Last week, 11 veterans received a disability rating of 100% for their service-connected disabilities. This group will receive a combined annual $452,738. They will be eligible for the state benefits of sales tax exemptions, property tax exemptions and other benefits that our state provides for disabled veterans. Twenty-three veterans were awarded disability ratings from 10% to 90% and will receive a combined annual $560,261. Two surviving spouses were awarded benefits totaling $30,373 a year.

There are some important instructions I'd like to give those filing claims. Last week, I encouraged veterans to send their claims for Veterans Affair benefits to us at P.O. Box 592, Washington, OK 73093. The response that we received was overwhelming.

When you are sending your DBQs or other types of medical evidence, please include a photocopy of your DD-214 and a copy of your last percentage letter from the VA in your packet. If you have been denied for any claim prior, also send a copy of the denial letter. Before sending us your DBQs or other medical evidence, please complete the three forms located on our website and Facebook page.

I would also like to give a special thanks this week to Andrew Lasser, a member of our board of advisors and executive vice president of Avanza Healthcare Strategies. Lasser's rich health care experience includes various leadership posts, notably executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief executive officer of academic medical center hospitals, children's hospitals, community hospitals, rural hospitals and a religiously affiliated hospital.

Lasser is a fellow of the American College of Health care Executives. He is a frequent speaker at health care meetings and is the author of several articles and publications. He has served on the editorial boards of the American College of Healthcare Executives' Journal of Healthcare Management and the Journal of Rural Health. We are grateful for his service to our organization.

The Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation helps veterans, because many of us have walked in their shoes and know firsthand the sacrifices many of them have made. In the 60s, when we returned from Vietnam, there did not seem to be anyone or an organization that was interested in helping us. By no fault of their own, many veterans were not the same after returning home from military service. This is due to the impact of being in combat and being traumatized by the things they saw. Some struggle with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder every day of their lives.

Our mission is to encourage veterans to talk with mental health professionals either at veterans centers, VA hospitals or private psychologists. We believe that the 30,000 veterans and surviving spouses we represent deserve the best help that is available. I believe we have some of the best people around who volunteer with our foundation. Thank you to everyone involved in making it happen.

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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