Congratulations to our veteran of the week, Maurice Traylor, from Spencer. He served our country honorably during the Vietnam War as a member of the United States Army. Thank you Traylor for your service to our country.

Faced with concerns and uncertainties over COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the impact on our clients, volunteers and staff, the Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation will be closed until further notice. We will reopen when health professionals deem it safe for us to do so.

With more than 300 veterans visiting us each week from many parts of the country, we felt that it would be safer for our volunteers and veterans not to take any chances on the possibility of someone becoming infected who visited our foundation.

As most of our volunteers and visitors are over 60 years old, we are in the group that will most likely be affected more than any other. Some of us will be available to help veterans via the internet or by phone for those who need assistance with appeals or who have a deadline to submit evidence to VA.

We can be reached at 550-8806, Ext 102, or by email at dale@dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org.

I would have never dreamed that our country would have been in this type of situation in this day and time. One of the things that many are not aware of is that almost everything we use daily is manufactured in other countries.

Maybe the eyes of our leaders will be opened to see what can happen when we rely on manufacturing in other counties to save dollars. I hope that what is going on in the world will be just a bad memory very soon.

Last week was an average week for us, with slightly over 300 veterans and surviving spouses visiting us for help with their VA claims and questions. Of that group, we had veterans from California to New York along with others from several states in between.

Most of the veterans we assist are from Oklahoma, with an average of 50 or so coming from other states each week. We are glad to help all veterans and surviving spouses, no matter where they call home.

I still don't understand in this day and time why other veterans' advocates are not following our example by using an evidence-based claims system. When a first time visitor comes to us, we are going to review their DD-214.

We question them about any injuries or illnesses that occurred to them while they were on active, leave or during annual training if they served in the Reserves or National Guard. If a veteran is already service-connected, we will review those disabilities to see if they are chronic conditions or are more severe than when the VA last evaluated them.

One of the things that we advise every veteran who is asking for a re-evaluation is that a disability rating can go up or down depending upon their condition when they are re-evaluated.

Last week, 18 veterans received a 100% rating for their service-connected disabilities. They will receive a combined annual $728,828 and will also be eligible for the Oklahoma State Tax benefits that our state legislature approved more than 15 years ago.

The most significant benefit is the Property Tax Exemption on the veteran's primary residence and the Sales Tax Exemption on purchases.

Forty-seven veterans received ratings from 10% to 90% for their service-connected disabilities. This group will receive a combined annual $693,151.

We spend more than $30,000 each month in direct support of the veterans and family members we serve. We transport many homeless veterans to our Norman location each week to help make a difference in the lives of the men and women who have served in the military.

As you know, we are a 501(c)3 non-profit and are wholly dependent on donations from the people we serve and local grants.

Donations are always appreciated and may be tax-exempt. 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 gift, please contact Lora at 550-8806, Ext. 101.

Monetary donations can be made online or mailed to PO Box 592, Washington, OK 73093.

For the latest updates about our reopening, visit our Facebook page and website dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org.

Stay healthy. Our prayers are with all of you and your families during this time of trial in our country. 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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