NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Hundreds of veterans line up overnight twice a week to get help they need from another veteran.
It started as a mission run out of his garage in Goldsby – helping fellow vets with their benefits and more.
News 4 had a viewer reach out overnight and we found a line and a need that stretch far beyond what you’d see in the daylight.
“It was about 6:45 [p.m.] and there were already 5 veterans waiting to go in – just so they could be at the front of the line this morning,” said Michael Isom who served in the Marines.
It’s a pretty regular scene these days – veterans and their loved ones, spanning part of a shopping center through the night – waiting for help when the doors open at the Dale K. Graham Foundation at 5:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“We do everything we can to get them the benefits they deserve,” said Dale K. Graham, a Vietnam Veteran who started his foundation in his hometown of Goldsby.
“Actually about 2003 or 2004 I started out in my garage and it’s continued to grow,” Graham said.
Graham’s wife said there were a few too many cars in the front yard – so he eventually made the move to a shopping center near I-35 and Robinson in Norman.
They’re averaging about 300-400 people per week from all over the country and beyond
“Last week we had one from Kenya, Africa,” Graham said.
Volunteers with the 501-c help with any questions they may have – legal, medical benefits and more – even counseling from certified counselors.
Graham is focused on helping folks maximize their benefits – some of them – they may not have known they were eligible for.
“It’s kind of a one-stop-shop as far as I’m concerned,”Graham said.
Many of those who come in are family members – seeking help for their children or spouses.
“It really hurts when these guys die and you never know when next time it will be yours,” said Janalee Pacheco, whose husband served in Korean War.
Work begins every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:30 a.m. – greeting the long line of folks in desperate need.
Graham is hopeful to soon have more space – so no one will have to wait in the cold.
“These are our American Heroes right here,” Graham said. “These folks here stood up when nobody else would.”
They’re always willing to help and looking for volunteers.
For more information, visit their website.
Starting Monday – Veteran’s Day – the Oklahoma Dental Foundation’s MobileSmiles Program and dental students from OU will spend a week at Dale Graham caring for existing clients.