‘Honoring that sacrifice’

Folds of Honor car tag will provide money for vet family scholarships

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Kim Steagall, wife of U.S. Air Force reservist Jay Steagall, and Retired Army Major Ed Pulido visit with Steagall who is deployed to the Middle East. The conversation occurred after the mock signing of Senate Bill 892 Wednesday. (Photo by Mindy Ragan Wood)

By Mindy Ragan Wood
Staff Writer

A hero of war and advocate for education attended the signing of a bill that will provide veterans’ families scholarships for college.

Folds of Honor Vice President and U.S. Retired Army Major Ed Pulido joined state Representative John Paul Jordan for a mock signing of Senate Bill 892 Wednesday at the Yukon Veterans Museum.

The bill allocates $25 from the $35 sale of a Folds of Honor license plate to fund $5,000 scholarships for veterans’ families.

“For us this license plate isn’t just about a license plate, it’s about honoring that sacrifice and educating about that legacy. What we’ve learned in America and in this state is that we educate our young people and they become successful and they improve their quality of life for us. Education for our nation’s heroes and families is why we’re doing what we’re doing,” Pulido said.

Jordan, R-Yukon said it was an honor.

“To me this is a wonderful cause to work with and to work for. So, getting this done through the legislature, my last year, one of the last bills I got to run, it was definitely an honor,” he said.

Folds of Honor’s (FOH) Gary Huddleston approached Jordan about the bill during the last legislation session.

“Many thanks to Rep. Jordan. We initially had this plate authorized nine years ago, however there is another prevailing state statute that says there must be 100 plates sold or it’s automatically discontinued, not to be brought back up. Rep. Jordan reauthorized this plate and we will get 100 plates sold, we will get 1,000 plates sold and we hope to get 10,000 plates preordered when this goes into effect,” Huddleston said.

SB 892 may not be the only bill that FOH is interested in spearheading or supporting.

“I’m about to go speak the at the University of Memphis,” Pulido said. “The first university in the country that’s going to give anybody who applies for a Folds of Honor scholarship full tuition. I hope to do that with OU and OSU and do that all over the state. In Oklahoma there is a tuition waiver, and in other states they have that, but we could run some legislation to make sure that if their family is hurt 80 percent (disabled) that their family gets some kind of education stipend.”

Applications to purchase the patriotic plate will be available for purchase when the bill goes into effect November 1 at tag agencies and through the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
The tag proceeds will be one more source of funding for FOH but another source has been advertised on television commercials.

“Anheuser-Busch, which honors Folds of Honor with the Freedom Reserve Beer , provides monies to Folds of Honor,” Huddleston said.

The corporate beer giant has raised $14.1 million for the charity to date, the company announced May 1. The new red lager beer has been brewed by “Budweiser’s own veterans,” a statement on Brewbound.com states.

It was not known how much the tag sales could contribute to FOH, but it was evident that Pulido and Huddleston were grateful for the local support.

“When you do things like this, our veterans really care and our families are really impacted. I just want to say thank you,” Pulido said.

Those in attendance were not the only ones to whom the decorated veteran offered his thanks. Kim Steagall’s husband, Jay, is deployed in the Middle East where he serves with the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Jay Steagall watched the mock signing and later spoke to Pulido from a live video stream as Kim Steagall huddled next to the retired major after the ceremony.

“Keep making a difference,” Pulido said to Steagall. “We’re going to be together and you know what it’s honoring, that sacrifice and supporting the legacy and you are in harms’ way but you’re doing it because you love your country and you took an oath of office to defend the greatest nation in the world, the United States of America.”

Pulido was severely injured while serving with the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team under the command of General David Petraeus. He was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device. Due to the extensive injuries to his left knee, doctors had to amputate his left leg on October 1, 2004. For his heroism and valor, the President of the United States along with General David Petraeus awarded Pulido the Bronze Star with Valor, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, and Joint Service Commendation and Achievement Medals.

He has received prestigious awards including the Disabled American Veteran of the Year Award, HeartLine Festival of Hope Award for Suicide Prevention, the Hero’s Award from the American Red Cross, the Reaching our City Award, OKC Thunder/Devon Energy Community Hero Award, and the Daughters of the American Revolution Veteran Patient Award. Pulido has received the Valley Forge Freedom Foundation Award for national and state level service and the Tuskahoma Brown Miller Award for outstanding leadership.

His story has been featured on Fox News, CNN, Time Magazine and PGA magazine among numerous other news outlets.

FOH was started in 2007 by Air Force Major Dan Rooney after he witnessed a group of airline passengers display disrespect to a slain soldier when they refused to remain seated until the body had left the plane. Rooney formed Folds of Honor to pay tribute to fallen and disabled American service members and their families. FOH is based in Owasso, Oklahoma.