Yellow bows of freedom to be placed in honor of employees and families

Department of Public Safety officials will kick off a program to support employees and family members who have been called to active military duty beginning with a Yellow Bows of Freedom ceremony to be held Wednesday at 2 p.m. Twenty-one DPS employees and 27 family members of DPS employees will be honored with a total of 48 yellow ribbons.

Longtime DPS employee Lori Buckaloo, Human Resources, and the DPS Military Family Support Group staff have organized the event and a subsequent military family support program to be implemented until all have returned home. The ceremony welcomes family members who will tie yellow ribbons to a designated tree on the agency's grounds.

"We are getting a tremendous response from family members of our employees," said Buckaloo. "They have already shown a great amount of support and the program has yet to officially begin."

The featured guest speaker will be Adjadent General of Oklahoma, Major General Harry M. Wyatt III.

"We were thrilled to get a confirmation from General Wyatt," said Buckaloo. "His appearance has generated quite a bit of excitement."

Wyatt is responsible for commanding units of the Air and Army National Guard and serves as military advisor to the governor.

"A trooper will perform patriotic songs," said Buckaloo. "The OHP honor guard will present colors, and we hope to have a soldier representing each branch of the military attend the ceremony."

Commissioner Bob A. Ricks, Assistant Commissioner Kevin Ward and Colonel Gary Adams will each participate in the ceremony.

"The creation of this military program was an idea that was formed in the commissioner's office," said Buckaloo. "All of the DPS administration have been very supportive of this effort. We think it will prove a successful venture for all involved."

The program consists of weekly prayer meetings, bimonthly newsletters, a support group, organized care packages and employees may dress in patriotic attire on every Friday. Buckaloo created a similar program for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Academy cadets and their families.

"With her background as creator of the OHP academy cadet family program, we knew she was the right person to coordinate this project," said Ward. "We wanted a vehicle of communication that we could use to stay in touch with the DPS families of these soldiers. There will be times when they will need our assistance, and we want to be able to help them with everything from financial issues, to home and vehicle maintenance, or anything else they might need while their family member is away participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lori has put together a top-notch group of employees to help her implement this program, and we think it will be a very successful project."

The ceremony will be held at DPS headquarters, NE 36th Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard.