Pauls Valley Democrat
It’s been a little over a year since an effort to help military veterans and their families got started near Garvin County, but one person in the middle of the battle says its made a big difference.
The group called Veteran’s Aid of Oklahoma, Inc. is made up of volunteers and calls nearby Purcell home.
Still, their work has helped more than 300 veterans or their surviving spouses, many living in Garvin County and the surrounding region, get the benefits they deserve.
Leading the charge is Carl Ellison, who pitches in his own time and money to help the cause.
“We work to help the veterans in determining what benefits they’re entitled to,” Ellison said.
“We complete claims forms, mail it off for them and get documentation to the VA,” he said, referring to the Veteran’s Administration.
Although veterans are from all over, including those from other states, many come from right here in Garvin County.
“We’ve been getting a lot of people from Garvin County,” Ellison said, adding there are vets and their families in just about every community in the county.
“I would say a majority of our work is coming out of Garvin County,” he said. “We deal with veterans from Garvin County every week.
“We have a number of veterans in Garvin County who are starting to receive benefits because of this service. Most of them are for disabilities.”
Other types of claims are to help people with expenses for funerals, pensions and even benefits for school and the estates for those surviving a vet after they pass away.
In some cases the benefits can literally mean the difference between life and death
“We work to keep them walking and breathing and living. Some of these people have trouble putting food on the table.”
Other claims are to help pay expenses for vets in nursing homes or assisted living centers.
Ellison stresses to veterans and their families to get the claims process started as early as possible as the service works to be proactive.
He also gives credit to the success of the effort to area newspapers getting the word out about this claims assistance.
“I want to say thanks for running this in your newspaper,” Ellison said, referring to the Pauls Valley Democrat and information on the service’s monthly gatherings normally on the first Wednesday of the month.
“Because of your newspaper you’ve probably saved some lives.”
The next time for in-person claims assistance is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7.
It will again be at the McClain County Community Building in Purcell, 2101 Hardcastle, with the entrance on the north side.
Vets are asked to bring all their military and medical records, in addition to any correspondence from the VA.
To find out more, call Ellison at 405-823-0910 or Debbie Lee at 405-593-6617.
As for his work as a volunteer, Ellison says he’s just doing the right thing.
“I believe you should give back to the community, and veterans deserve that help.”