This week I would like to recognize driver Harold Martin. He drives the wheelchair accessible van transporting veterans to and from the VA Hospital in Oklahoma City. He is always ready to go that extra mile to help veterans. This week being Thanksgiving, the rest of the volunteers will be off while Harold and other drivers will still transport veterans. Harold and his wife Edith make their home in Norman.
We will be closed Thursday and Dec. 26. I hope that each of you will be able to spend time with family and friends during this holiday period.
I received the following letter last week from a lady in Norman. I did ask her if I could share it with our readers. She asked me not to use her name because she now lives alone.
“Dear Mr. Graham,
I’m writing to tell you that my favorite veteran passed away Oct. 30. We lived in Norman when we visited Veterans Corner in 2011. Your volunteers assisted him to raise his VA disability from 30 percent to 100 percent that he had drawn for over 50 years. He always felt that he deserved more and you and your staff made it possible. He felt very good to know that his service was appreciated. Thanks to all of you so very much.”
We are at the Goldsby Community Center on Thursdays to make a difference in the lives of our veterans and surviving spouses. Services are free to everyone we assist. During the past 10 years, we have helped more than 20,000 men and women receive the VA benefits that they are eligible for. The lady’s story above is repeated many times over each week. I want all of the men and women who served this country in the military and their families to know about the benefits that are available to them. We support any organization that assists veterans and their families.
There were 106 men and women who were helped last Thursday with their claims for VA benefits. Of this number, there were six who had recently received ratings of 100 percent for their services connected disabilities. There were 15 veterans who were assisted in filling their first claim for benefits with the Department of Veterans Affairs. With the new e-benefits forms we are using, the time it takes for the veteran to receive a decision should be shortened significantly. I encourage all veterans who have access to a computer to set up a premium account in e-benefits at the VA website. With this account the veteran will be able to upload evidence or to see what stage the decision making process is in.
Shirley’s crew of ladies have been able to handle all of the surviving spouses while she has been off for a few weeks. She should be back to full duty the first Thursday in December. They were able to process 16 surviving spouses for benefits ranging from DIC, pension and one Atomic Radiation claim.
Treasurer Jerry Baxter was able to assist several veterans and their families through the benevolence fund Thursday morning. If you are in need of assistance, Jerry can be reached at 833-0773.
Last Monday we were invited to East Central University as part of the Upward Bound program for the veterans who are enrolled at the university. Those making the trip were Barbara Barb, Pat Pattillo, Dr. Wade Warren and myself. We were there to meet with other organizations that assist veterans in other areas such as jobs, mental health, etc.
Veterans Corner would like the opportunity to present a PowerPoint presentation on veterans benefits to any church or other organization that has veterans or surviving spouses as members. This usually takes only an hour for the presentation and question and answer period. For more information, call 550-8806.
I wanted to let everyone know that the veterans who are on oxygen, in wheelchairs or have doctor appointments are able to be seen first if they make the request to do so. This has been our policy since we started Veterans Corner. If you are unable to see us on a Thursday morning, call me 550-8806 or at email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those who need food items, Sid Smith has food boxes prepared each Thursday.
We have three vans that are used to transport veterans to their VA appointments. Clayton Lee of Dibble can be reached at 684-8860. Other drivers are Howard Martin of Norman, he drives the wheelchair accessible van, and can be reached at 227-3239.
For all of your questions and assistance about veteran’s benefits, we are at the Goldsby Community Center each Thursday. The doors open at 7 a.m. and sign in sheets are available at 5:30 a.m.
You may send donations to Veterans Corner, P.O. Box 704 Washington, OK 73093.
Dale K. Graham is Veterans Corner service officer.