Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation

Number of care packages doubles

From the desk of Assistant Chief Gary Batton

December 2011

As I looked out over the hundreds of veterans and their families on the Capitol grounds at Tushka Homma for our Veterans Day ceremony last month, I felt a deep gratitude for what they have done to keep our country free. Nothing we can do for them will ever equal the sacrifices they made for us. Many of the men and women fighting for our freedom today will hopefully be on American soil again soon. In the meantime, we keep praying for their quick and safe return.

Choctaw Nation’s Veterans Advocacy Deputy Director Brent Oakes has reported a record number of care packages sent in the last month to Afghanistan and Kuwait. In addition to the department’s regular quarterly mailing of 150 care packages, the Choctaw Nation has paid for shipping of 450 additional packages, all in the month of November. Families are bringing boxes filled to the brim with things such as snacks, Christmas ornaments and presents, and iTunes and phone cards. The boxes range in size from a foot square to three feet square. One package contained everything needed to have a Thanksgiving meal. We have even shipped a few Christmas trees on request to make the holidays brighter.

The packages sent every three months by our Veterans Advocacy staff are packed with canned goods, snacks such as peanuts, candy and beef jerky, and toiletry and specialty items.

The staff has done an outstanding job. There are currently only two of them in the office – Brent Oakes and Darla Moody. Their director, Kelly McKaughan, and coordinator, John Lance, are deployed.

A Christmas gift from the tribe was sent again this year. Each person on the program’s mailing list received a case with a pocketknife and a Maglight, two things that are always needed by our troops and can often mean the difference in life and death.

We have also helped many organizations mail care packages – the 180th Family Readiness Group, the Caney Volunteer Fire Department and area churches, schools and vo-techs to name a few.

Durant Intermediate School students and faculty made donations to fill 27 boxes for Bryan County soldiers and two of the boxes were specifically for the dogs in canine units so they could have a Christmas present, too. It is heartwarming to know we are part of such caring communities and thankful for the opportunity to help bring a little holiday pleasure to the service men and women engaging in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.