NORMAN — Today we are recognizing an Army veteran as the volunteer of the week. Keith Riggins has been with us more than four years helping veterans to file their claims for service connected injuries that occurred in the military. Keith and his wife Aegeda make their home in Lexington.
Last Thursday, Shirley and her crew of ladies reached a milestone when they were able to process 20 surviving spouses for benefits. If you have questions, stop by or call Shirley at 361-9322.
There were 147 veterans and surviving spouses who were assisted with their VA claims and questions Thursday morning. Of this number, there were 23 who filed their first claim for benefits. There were seven Veterans who received ratings of 100 percent. These Veterans will qualify for the Oklahoma State Tax benefits that our Legislature approved several years ago. If you are rated 50 percent or higher by VA, there are several benefits that are available. Those with a 10 percent VA rating are eligible for a Golden Access Card that can be used for discounts at most National parks. We were able to assist 16 Veterans who were recently rated from 10 percent to 90 percent for their service connected disabilities.
On another note, if a veteran was involved in the nuclear testing that was done during the ’40s, ’50s or ’60s, there are benefits that might be payable if the veteran became ill or died of some types of cancers. These types of claims are not processes through the VA. We have some information for these types of claims and can help you to file for the benefit.
As most of you know we are in the planning stages of purchasing land to build our own Veterans Corner building. We want to do more for our veterans and surviving spouses than we are able to provide. We need a place that is always set up and ready to provide veterans and surviving spouses the services that are needed. This also will increase the ability to store items that are needed for disabled veterans. We also plan on increasing the capacity to provide food and other household items than we are able to currently. If you would like to help us with this endeavor, please contact us.
The benevolence fund was used to help several veterans and their families with food items, rents, utilities, transportation and medical expenses last week. All monies that are donated to the fund and our building fund, are tracked by Jerry Baxter, treasurer. We are a 501(c)(3) with your donations being tax deductible. We also accept cars and trucks, running or not, that can be sold. When a donation of this type is made, we provide a receipt with a description of your item with you providing the amount to be deducted on your taxes.
The benevolence fund was able to supply several surviving spouses and veterans with food boxes prepared by Sid Smith of Norman. Sid has these at his house or they are available at the Goldsby Community Center on Thursday mornings. Sid can be reached at 573-1990 anytime for assistance with food items.
Clayton Lee, 684-8860, and the other transportation drivers, provided rides to seven veterans to the Oklahoma City VA Hospital for their appointments. If you need a ride or know a veteran who does, contact Clayton to set up a driver. For the Norman area veterans can call Harold Martin at 227-3239 or Robert Root at 919-3008. For Moore area needs contact Howard Robertson 205-4895.
The Goldsby Veterans Memorial has another 50 bricks waiting to be laid along the Walk Of Honor leading up to the Memorials. This will be done by Johnny Rhoades of Noble as soon as the weather permits. If you have not visited with Harold Harvell about your brick, take the time to do so. He can be reached at 596-8755 or see him or his helpers JD Kinard and Riley Phillips any Thursday morning. They are always there showcasing their military hats and our Veterans Corner book by Dr. Kami Day that is available for sale.
We are in need of a large wheelchair for one of our veterans, if you or someone you know has one to donate. Please call me at 550-8806.
For all of your questions and assistance about veterans benefits, we are at the Goldsby Community Center each Thursday. Doors open at 8 a.m.
Take time to visit www.veteranscorner.org. You also may send donations to Veterans Corner P.O. Box 704, Washington, OK 73093.
Dale K. Graham is service officer of VFW Post 4890.