MUSKOGEE – The Wagoner Elks Club No. 2838 has a straightforward approach when it comes to veterans.

“So long as there are Veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them,” Jim Pivec of the Elks Club related.

Those are not jut platitudes, either. The Elks stand behind those words with action.

The current action is helping Victor Lezama, CW3 USMC/USA (Ret.) transform a broken down former nursing home into a “The Barracks” for military veterans to get their lives back on the straight and narrow.

The Wagoner Elks Club No. 2838 is standing with Lezama.

The Barracks are being renovated at 4717 W. Okmulgee in Muskogee. It is a spacious setting, but needed a lot of TLC.

“Without the support of the Elks Lodge in the beginning and continuing support, we would not be at this state we are now,” said Lezama. “They went above and beyond. Not just in dollars, but in manpower.”

Lezama is quick to point out this is not a “nursing home” for old soldiers, but a transitional point to stop and find direction, a place to talk and a place to heal.

The official title of the place on the back of Lezama’s business card says it all: THE BARRACKS: Veterans Helping Veterans.

The new home is a mini-city. It has everything a person could need.

And, the Elks helped provide of the things inside and outside.

Here is a short list of what’s been built and/or donated by the Elks.

• Sponsored a room at the Barracks – a workout room. Room was cleaned, painted, installed a padded flooring and mini blinds. This was done with Elks volunteers.

• A $1,500 donation. This was for materials for replacement of electrical service wire and alarm system installation.

• Purchased and delivered a side-by-side refrigerator and a large stove with grill.

• An outdoor sitting bench at main entrance fabricated by FFA in Porter.

• Racks for linen closet and linen/bedding for 11 rooms.

• Coordinated two food drives with Arvest Bank in Wagoner.

• Donated interview clothing for Veterans seeking work.

• Two picnic tables for outdoor area. These tables also convert into four benches.

• A fire pit for outdoor groups for cookouts or just to sit and talk with night lighting. The pit is protected by ironwork in the shape of M-16s.

• Donated a Sleep Number bed and some kitchen pots and pans.

All these donations were made possible because of the various Elks fundraisers. Those fundraisers included: Horseshoe tournaments, corn hole tournaments, annual car show, Polar Plunge and various other activities.