We will be closed Thanksgiving Day and the full week of Christmas so volunteers can spend time with their families.

Veteran of the week Ash Julian served in the United States Army. He makes his home in Moore. Thank you for your service. We truly appreciate your service and sacrifice.

Our foundation was excited to partner with the Oklahoma Dental Foundation in providing free dental care to veterans last week. With their mobile clinic, we were able to help serve 50 veterans with dental needs. Thank you to the Oklahoma Dental Foundation.

Each Tuesday and Thursday morning, we assist more than 100 veterans who have served in the U.S. military.

All of us who volunteer at the veterans foundation are making a difference in the lives of thousands of veterans each year.

When we first started this mission, we all thought that in a few years, we would have assisted all of the veterans and surviving spouses who needed help with their VA claims and questions. We were wrong. The more of them we can help, the more we have the following day.

Since we started, I'm sure we have assisted more than 100,000 receive the VA benefits they are eligible for.

We have only been tracking those who I have or Bill Scott has listed as their POA. Currently, we are representing around 30,000 veterans with their VA claims.

In the first 15 years or so, we did not even count the ones we assisted each year.

I hope that we will be able to continue making a difference in the lives of our nation's veterans for many years to come.

Many years ago, when we first started this program, so many veterans were not receiving benefits that they should have been approved for when they were honorably discharged from the military.

Around 1999 or 2000, I began to understand why so many claims were denied.

Back then, no one had ever seen or heard of a VA Disability Benefits Questionnaire that is now used by the VA to evaluate and diagnose a veteran's disability.

When VA first introduced these, everyone thought it would be a disaster.

Our organization has thrived by using the DBQ forms that are filled out by medical providers for veterans.

The more evidence a veteran can provide when requesting service-connection or for an increased rating, the better off they will be. Some people will file a laundry list of disabilities when seeking service-connection of disability.

Usually, those types of claims will be denied because there is no diagnosis of a disability and no nexus linking what occurred in the military to the veteran's condition today.

One of the things that we are continually seeing is veterans who are suffering from PTSD caused by military sexual trauma. This has happened through no fault of their own.

There is not a week that goes by that we don't have one or more who have received a diagnosis of depression, anxiety or PTSD caused by that type of trauma.

We are lucky to have partnered with some great organizations. One is the Vet Center counselors from Oklahoma City or Lawton, who are with us each day we are open.

We also have representatives from the Tinker Federal Credit Union and the Navy Federal Credit Union available. Legal Aid and representatives from Social Security are here to help at no charge.

We received quite a bit of mail from the VA last week. Twenty-seven veterans were awarded 100% for their service-connected disabilities and will receive a combined annual $1,172,643. S

eventy-four received ratings from 10 to 90% and will receive a combined yearly $1,214,357. One surviving spouse was awarded benefits totaling $15,829 a year.

Our drivers have been working overtime, transporting veterans to our location and to and from VA medical appointments. Thank you to each of them.

We are a 501-3-C nonprofit, which means our services are free to everyone who we assist with our services. We operate on donations from individuals, businesses or grants we receive.

Our budget each month to provide services such as rent, utilities, transportation and medical expenses for the men and women we assist is over $25,000. This equates to over $300,000 per year in services to veterans and their families.

Please consider becoming a donor. Your gift should be tax-deductible. You can donate directly on our website or by mail to P.O. Box 592, Washington, OK 73093.

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 computers ready.

Visit dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org for more information and click the Frequently Asked Questions tab.

You also may contact us at 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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