OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Secretary of Veterans Affairs Rita Aragon, who serves on Gov. Mary Fallin’s Cabinet, released the following Veterans Day message:
“Oklahoma is a very patriotic state with people who cherish the principles of liberty and justice for all. We rely on the courage of those who put on our nation’s uniform and stand between those who would lay our country low because of the bounty of our lifestyles and our religious freedoms guaranteed in our constitution.
“Oklahoma stands proud when looking at the 350,000 plus who have worn the uniform of the greatest nation on earth. Our patriotism runs high and proud as we approach a time we remember all those who served. This Veterans Day we recognize publicly and passionately those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our way of life.
“We need to take a look at those who suffered visible and invisible wounds for our benefit. A program that helps incarcerated veterans apply for their earned federal Veterans Administration benefits, “Battle Buddies,” reaches out to our 17 state corrections centers. They are veterans helping veterans, an all-volunteer, no-tax dollar program.
“To sign up for a Battle Buddy, the offender must agree to several requirements. Battle Buddies agrees to help file for federal benefits, find the parolee a job and a place to live (usually conditions of the parole) before they are ever released. The offender must agree to join a veteran’s service organization, a family of faith (whatever that means to them), and to attend mental health and substance abuse treatment from a local source and paid for by the VA. These multiple sources help to insure a safety net for successful parole.
“This November 11, say thanks to those who have served and those who continue to serve you and our nation.”