MOORE — We are recognizing an Air Force veteran as the volunteer of the week. Richard Blouin served for 28 years on active duty with 22 of those being overseas. We appreciate the knowledge and expertise that he brings to Goldsby each Thursday. Without men and women like Richard who give their time and energy freely to our cause, we would not be able to accomplish our mission. Richard and his wife Irma make their home in Moore.
Last Thursday the Goldsby Community building was needed for the funeral lunch of one of community leader Robert L. Beller. Condolences go out to his family and friends for their loss.
Mayor Cindy Scott allowed us to use the old Goldsby School building last Thursday to provide the services to those needing assistance for their VA claims and questions. We used all of the space in the building and then set up three tables outside to accommodate those seeking assistance. Everything went well with no real problems other than parking. I do appreciate the Town of Goldsby staff for providing space for us to help our veterans.
Last Sunday morning at the conclusion of service officer training at the Wyndam Hotel in Oklahoma City, we were privileged to have Congressman James Lankford as the guest speaker. The Congressman serves on many committees that are directly related to veteran’s benefits. I found him very knowledgeable of the needs that many in the veteran community have. His district director, Mona Taylor, offered to help us with any questions or problems that veterans have. Personally I found the congressman and his director to be very caring individuals. I will send an invitation to their office to request that some Thursday morning they stop by to pray with us during the opening announcements.
I would like to tell you about the three days of training that 55 of the volunteers finished last weekend. There were more than 150 men and women from all over Oklahoma who were enrolled in junior service officer training. They represented many of the service organizations such as DAV, VFW and several others. The Department of Veterans Affairs is in the process of improving the way all veterans and surviving spouses claims are handled. The most important part of these changes is the fully developed claims forms that are used to apply for compensation, pension or survivor benefits. A veteran is able to attach a VA disability questionnaire filled out by their doctor which shows the severity of their disability which was caused by, aggravated or presumptive to military service. When this is done correctly with all required information and evidence, the VA may make a decision on the veterans claim within only a few months instead of the year or more that many are waiting for. We also will use this method to ask for a re-evaluation of a service connected condition. I would like to encourage all veterans and surviving who have Internet service to visit benefits.va .gov/transformation. After reading their information, log on to ebenefits.va.gov to set up an account. With this system in place the veteran or surviving spouse will be able to keep of with the progress that VA makes in making a decision on your claim.
Last week I arrived early to encourage as many of those wanting assistance to return next Thursday due to the limited space that we had in the old school. We ended up assisting 65 men and women who were unable to return the following week. Of this number, there were 12 surviving spouses who applied for VA benefits or returned for a follow up visit. Several of these ladies were here to request help with rents, food items and other needs.
There were 16 veterans who filed their first claim for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Several of these men were 70 years of age or more.
For those who need food items, Sid Smith has food boxes prepared each Thursday.
We have three transportation vans that are used to transport veterans to their VA appointments. One of the vans is equipped with a wheelchair lift. Driver Clayton Lee of Dibble can be reached at 684-8860. Other drivers are Howard Martin of Norman, who drives the wheelchair accessible van, and can be reached at 227-3239, Robert Root of Norman can be reached at 919-3008.
For all of your questions and assistance about veteran’s benefits, we are located at the Goldsby Community Center each Thursday. Doors open at 7 a.m. and sign in sheets are available at 5:30 a.m. Please be there early for us to help you with your claim.
Take time to visit our web address at www.veteranscorner.org. We are a non-profit that helps the veterans and widows in our community. For questions on widow’s benefits, call Shirley at 361-9322. You also may send donations to Veterans Corner, P.O. Box 704, Washington, OK, 73093.
You can call me at 550-8806 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dale K. Graham is service officer for VFW Post 4890.