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Congratulating Pvt. 1st Class Jeremy Nedd, right, on the commendation he received Friday from Gov. Mary Fallin are Oklahoma Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs Rita Aragon and Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, commanding general of Fort Sill and the Fires Center of Excellence.

Military is family-oriented force

State secretary of VA speaks at luncheon

Today's military is a family-oriented force, Oklahoma Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs Rita Aragon said at the Armed Forces Day Luncheon sponsored by the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

She assured military families present that "we do understand your sacrifice, we do appreciate your losses and we do understand that this is a truly joint effort of not just combining the forces but combining the families and how important you are to the defense of this nation."

Only 1 percent of the nation serves in the military, and with the drawdown the percentage will be even less, Aragon said.

The story is a bit different in Oklahoma. It has five installations: Tinker Air Force Base, Fort Sill, McAlester's Joint Munitions Depot, Altus Air Force Base and Vance Air Force Base at Enid.

Oklahoma has approximately 3.5 million citizens, of whom 359,000 have served in the military  roughly 1 in 10.

"That's one of the reasons the state is so military-friendly. It's also military-friendly because it's a great economic engine," Aragon said.

Various claims have been made for which sector is the primary driver of Oklahoma's economy. Energy leads at the "boom" end of its cycle, but not when it goes "bust." Agriculture is strong when the weather cooperates but not when there's a drought.

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