Choctaw program’s full staff headed to Afghanistan

Durant, Oklahoma (AP) January 2011

The entire three-person staff of the Choctaw Nation’s veterans’ advocacy program is headed to Afghanistan.

The Durant-based tribe says Kelly McKaughan, Brent Oakes and John Lance all are members of the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s 45th Infantry Brigade combat team, which is on alert for a year-long deployment. They are scheduled to deploy early this year.

The tribe started the program in 2005 to assist American Indian veterans in filing benefit claims. Choctaw Chief Greg Pyle says those in the program also work to provide items to soldiers who are deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It will be McKaughan’s second deployment and the first for Oakes and Lance.

The tribe says it has hired another staffer, Jason Burwick, to help assure that the veterans’ advocacy program will continue.