Alvie Boles was the Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation Veteran of the Week. He will celebrate his 100th birthday April 14. We helped him receive VA benefits a few years ago.

Raised outside the McClain County town of Rosedale, he was initially drafted for one year of duty in World War II; he was two months shy of going home when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. His tour was extended indefinitely.

A few months later, Boles was among seven soldiers at Fort Bliss, Texas, chosen to become a part of a new Army division, the 2nd Armored, training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Under the command of Brig. Gen. George S. Patton, the division was sent to North Africa in November 1942.

Nicknamed "Hell on Wheels," the 2nd Armored is best known for its role in the campaign at Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge and for being the first American unit to reach Berlin in July 1945.

Boles spent most of World War II driving a half-track vehicle and using a motorcycle to run messages from one artillery unit to another. He had three brief encounters with Patton, including one when they both sat on the windshield of a half-track vehicle and shared some Army rations.

"He ate a can of beans with me," Boles said.

Asked about their mealtime conversation, Boles said it was one-sided.

"You just answer questions. You don't talk to him. He does the talking," he said.

Boles earned a Purple Heart when he was hit in the forehead by shrapnel.

"I've heard enough people say, 'I wasn't scared.' What I say is, if you weren't scared, you're either lying or you weren't there," Boles said. "You had one purpose, and that's to get home."

Over 280 veterans and surviving spouses assisted at our Veterans Foundation at 1268 N. Interstate Drive with their VA claims and questions last week. The VA decision process for veterans' claims process continues to improve, with some claims being decided within 90 days or less.

As we use the postal system and fax to submit veterans' applications for benefits, it is sometimes over 30 days after we submit before the VA will upload the application into the claims folder. If you have an E-Benefits account, give VA 45 days or so to upload any claims that we file.

We also encourage veterans to not upload anything to their account before letting us review it. If anything is sent in after we file the 21-526EZ form, their claim will be removed from the Fully Developed Claim and worked under the old system, which will add time to the decision-making process.

We are available every Tuesday and Thursday. 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.

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 look forward to your visit and thank you for trusting us to help you with your VA matters.

Visit dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org for more information. You can find a section on Frequently Asked Questions. You also may call 550-8806 for information or to schedule transportation.

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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