Looking at the numbers of veterans and surviving spouses who have already visited us in Norman at 1268 N. Interstate Drive, 2019 is going to be another record year for our foundation. We are assisting more than 300 men and women each week with their VA benefits.

As we use our evidence-based claims system to help each veteran receive the maximum VA benefit possible, it is going to take a little longer to process each individual's application for benefits. Most of those we serve will be on their way home before 9 a.m. each Tuesday and Thursday.

Veterans visit us from every county in Oklahoma, 48 states and four other countries. One reason so many come from out of state is our reputation for being able to help local veterans. Local veterans have contacts with the men and women with whom they served.

Veterans are a close-knit group who share knowledge and information to help each other. To me, that means we are going to need a bigger building and more volunteers to meet the demand.

Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation Veteran of the Week honors Harold Reed, a Vietnam veteran who served as a helicopter crew chief and door gunner. He is a longtime volunteer with the foundation and has been with me since I began helping veterans over 25 years ago. You can see Reed every Tuesday and Thursday helping fellow veterans and their families. He lives in Dibble.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been reinventing itself for several years by improving the forms veterans use to file claims for benefits and encouraging veterans to use the Disability Benefits Questionnaires as evidence. Many veterans who visit us for the first time tell me when they filed a claim elsewhere, the person helping them just listed disabilities and sent the claim in with no evidence.

Most of the disabilities filed in this manner get denied. This causes many veterans to give up and go home telling their friends and family that they applied for VA benefits but were denied. I have met many veterans who were 20 to 90 years old who had received a denial because no evidence was enclosed with their claim for VA benefits.

Some of them were denied many years ago and suffered severe financial hardship as they aged. Almost any veteran exposed to loud noise in the military can receive service-connection for hearing loss and tinnitus if they send in audio evidence that supports their request.

For those of you who would like to support our veterans foundation, we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit so your donations should be tax deductible. Since all of us are volunteers, most of the money we receive goes for support of veterans and their families. We also accept the donation of cars, trucks, motorcycles, tractors, wheelchairs and other types of handicapped equipment that can be given to veterans, and their families or sold to raise operational funds.

We are available every Tuesday and Thursday mornings at the 1268 N. Interstate Drive in Norman. We open the doors by 5:30 a.m. and begin working as soon as volunteers have computers ready. We stop taking clients at 8 and urge you to arrive as early as possible. Visit dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org for more information. Semper fi. As always, thank you to all veterans and their families for their service to this United States of America.

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