By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
PONCA CITY, OK – On May 7-8, the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs and the Osage Nation of Oklahoma will host a Presumptive Conditions Campaign event at the Osage Nation Casino Event Center, 64464 State Highway 60 in Ponca City. The two day event, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will focus on identifying and assisting Veterans across the Osage Nation and Oklahoma who may have presumptive disabilities that make them eligible for a VA pension claim.
A “presumptive disability” is a condition which may first appear after discharge, but that the VA presumes is related to military service. These conditions may qualify for VA compensation payments.
Partnering with twenty tribal communities, the VA is hosting a nationwide campaign throughout 2018 to promote enrollment claims.
The campaign, titled “Your Service. Our Mission: Bringing Benefits Home” kicked off March 21 in the Navajo Nation.
Tribal communities in eleven states have already confirmed their participation. In a press release, event organizers said that “reaching these veterans could have a direct, tangible impact on the lives of thousands of previously unreached veterans and their spouses. This will help VA enhance and improve the experience for all Veterans and their families.”
“With the focus on veterans with presumptive disabilities and those who are pension eligible, VA is hopeful we can help Indian Country veterans access the full range of benefits they have courageously earned through their service,” said Stephanie Birdwell, director, VA’s Office of Tribal Government Relations.
As a result of these presumptive disabilities, when a veteran dies, spouses may also be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
During the event, health information and other benefits will be available through representatives from Oklahoma City VA Health Care System and Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System; Muskogee Veterans Benefits Administration Regional Office; the State Department of Veterans Affairs; Disabled Veterans of America; local Vet Centers; and Tribal Veteran Service Officers. Staff members from each group will be on site to assist with filling out claims paperwork.
Veterans Service Officers from the Social Security Disability Determination Office will assist in filling out disability claims. Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Regional Office staff will be reviewing claims on the spot in order to approve several claims that same day, if possible.
Other agencies will be on site to provide additional program services. Both medical centers, Oklahoma City and Eastern Oklahoma, will be on hand to register any veterans who currently are not enrolled in the Veterans Health Care System.
Contacts for the event are Mary Culley, VA Tribal Government Relations Specialist at 405-626-3425.
For more information, contact Maria DeRoin, OVM Consultant and Central Communications Coordinator for Osage Nation of Oklahoma, at 918-287-9729.
Oklahoma has Veterans Centers available in Talihina, Sulphur, Norman, Lawton, Clinton and Claremore.