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Volunteers Offer Help to Incarcerated Veterans in Oklahoma

State of Oklahoma
Rita Aragon

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A volunteer-led effort is providing assistance to incarcerated veterans in Oklahoma.  
 The program known as ``Battle Buddies'' was started in 2012 by retired Maj. Gen. Rita Aragon, who serves as Gov. Mary Fallin's adviser on veteran's issues.  
 The Oklahoman reports that there are currently 700 incarcerated veterans signed up for Battle Buddies. Volunteers help them apply for benefits and establish veterans groups inside their prison facilities. Participants are paired with mentors, who help them with life after prison by finding them jobs and places to live.  
 So far, 68 Battle Buddies vets have been released from custody and none have re-offended. Program coordinator Ron Pandos says Battle Buddies has been so successful that lawmakers outside Oklahoma are eyeing the program with plans to duplicate it in their home states.