THE WOODLANDS — Former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin shared her views on the Second Amendment, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria crisis and military issues, as well as cracked some jokes and told personal anecdotes at the Mighty Oaks 4th Annual Gala at WoodsEdge Community Church Friday night.
The gala, which drew about 400 guests, benefited the Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs, a faith-based, non-profit organization focused on helping veterans deal with post-traumatic stress disorder and adjust to life after combat.
The programs include six-day Post Traumatic Stress Reintegration Programs for men and women and a three-day marriage program that take place at Sky Rose Ranch in San Miguel, Calif.
President and Founder of Mighty Oaks Programs Chad Robichaux, who is a former resident of The Woodlands and a Marine Corps veteran, spoke about how much the programs have grown since they started in 2011.
“Four hundred and fifty warriors have come through our program, we’ve still had zero suicides from our warriors,” Robichaux said.
Although, he added, that with veterans commiting suicide at a rate of 23 a day and a post-combat divorce rate of 80 percent, “the fight’s not over.”
The Mighty Oaks Programs are the only faith-based recovery programs that the U.S. military is ordering veterans to, according to Robichaux.
He emphasized the importance of the program’s faith-centered approach to helping those suffering from PTSD heal.
“Our strength is in that we are a faith-based program,” Robichaux said. “This was a calling that God put on my heart to help guys who went through what I went through.”
Robichaux also announced that he, along with Serving California, Mighty Oaks’ mother organization, have been working with Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, the U.S. Marine who has been held in prison in Mexico for entering the country in possession of firearms.
Phil Dunn, president of Serving California, is an attorney and has taken over the case for the Marine’s defense.
“He never intended to bring firearms into Mexico,” Dunn said. “He just asked if he could turn around.”
“Now he has a legal chance,” Robichaux said.
Dunn called on President Barack Obama to become more personally involved in Tahmooressi’s case and the attendees of the gala joined hands in prayer for his release.
When introducing Palin, Robichaux said that he did not ask her to come speak as a political figure.
“She’s coming here as an American who loves her warriors and as a mom of a warrior,” he said.
When she took the stage, Palin started off by saying how glad she was to be in Texas and remembering the time she spent in the state during her summers in high school.
“I’m gonna spare you guys all my Texas jokes, especially because I’m in church,” Palin said.
She talked about her son, Track, an army veteran who served in Iraq, and his experience with the Mighty Oaks Programs.
“He was enamored,” Palin said.
“At this time in such a tumultuous world, we need our returning warriors to be strong, we need them to be healthy,” she said. “They need to win these battles too, the battles that are at home.”