Last week, volunteers assisted 325 veterans who visited the veterans foundation last week. They came from as far away as Virginia on the East Coast and Washington on the West Coast. I feel like we are a lifeline for those veterans who have been denied by Veterans Affairs when they requested service-connection of a disability.

While talking to some medical providers, it seems our way of filing evidenced-based claims is beginning to be used by other veteran organizations. Some of them have been contacted by service officers from both the ODVA and the DAV with the request to evaluate veterans’ disabilities using the VA Disability Benefits Questionnaires.

Maybe others will soon follow, as there are more veterans and surviving spouses than any one organization could possibly accommodate. I would like to see all organizations who assist veterans to be linked to better serve them and their families' needs. To help, contact Executive Director Lora Malone at 550-8806 with thoughts and ideas.

Veteran of the week, Mr. James Fredrick O’Dell of Norman, served in the Korean War. We appreciate his service, along with the sacrifices that he made.

We continue to have some of the most knowledgeable and caring volunteers I have ever worked with in my 20-plus years of helping veterans and their families. We have several more of our folks who have applied with the VA to become accredited claims agents. This will help our organization continue to grow.

As far as I know, we are the only group that is made up of volunteers and accredited claims agents who do not charge for their services. Those who represent veterans and surviving spouses for a fee will receive up to 20 percent of their VA payments from any funds received as a result of a Notice of Disagreement that was filed.

Each week, we receive a copy of all correspondence that the VA sends to veterans and surviving spouses who we represent. We review each one of them to decide, and those who receive benefits or were denied will be sent a letter detailing what their next step should be in their claim. Since November, we have attended over 90 hearings for veterans. A decision is usually made a few months afterward.

As of today, most of the ones we have received have been approved. The VA has been working diligently to process the thousands of veterans' claims that are at the Board of Veterans Appeals in Washington, D.C. We have done most of our hearings using VA video hearings with a veterans law judge. This system is working for veterans we are assisting.

Twenty-three veterans were awarded a 100 percent rating for their service-connected disabilities last week. This group of men and women will receive a combined annual income of $930,054 per year. Thirty-nine veterans were approved for disability ratings from 10 to 90 percent of their service-connected disabilities. They will receive a combined annual total of $542,889 per year.

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 to provide for veterans' needs. Your donations should be tax deductible. You also can donate at dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org or by mail at P.O. Box 592, Washington, OK 73093.

Counselors 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 at 1268 N. Interstate Drive in Norman. We open the doors by 5:30 a.m., and we begin working as soon as volunteers have their computers ready. Visit dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org for more information. You also may call 550-8806 for information or to schedule transportation.

Thank you to all veterans and their families for their service. Semper fi.

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