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Indiana senator visits American Legion Post inside prison walls

By KEN DE LA BASTIDE | The Herald Bulletin | Published: August 9, 2019

PENDLETON, Ind. (Tribune News Service) — They are men behind the walls of the Pendleton Correctional Facility for a variety of reasons, but their common bond was serving time in the U.S. military.

The George Vickery American Legion Post 608 was started in 2008 and was named for Vickery, who served with the U.S. Marines as a sergeant from 1963 to 1965.

U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., a Marine Corps veteran, visited the American Legion Post, which is housed in a separate facility, on Thursday.

The walls are decorated with scenes painted by the inmates to honor those who have served in the military.

As each visitor entered Post 608 they were warmly greeted by a member of the American Legion and related what branch of the service they served with.

There were Legion members of all ages among the group.

"I'm here as a fellow veteran," Young said. "I'm grateful for your service. Thank you for what you did long ago, serve your country."

The Post 608 members are holding up the values and the tradition of the American Legion, the Indiana senator said.

"You inspire others," he said. "I know fellowship is real important."

Indiana Department of Correction rules don't allow the inmates to be identified by their full names.

Willie has been commander of Post 608 for 18 months. He served with the U.S. Navy.

"We're like no other post in the state," he said. "We're men of integrity in a highly anti-social environment."

Willie said since the post was formed it has donated $75,000 to charitable organizations.

"We're blessed to have an administration that supports our effort," he said.

Willie said on his first day behind bars he read a motto that "everyone could start to have a better tomorrow."

He said the Legion members are a fellowship where every member holds each other accountable and looks out for one another.

"It's about integrity inside the walls and for our families," Willie said.

Gary, a veteran of the Marine Corps, said the important part of being a member of Post 608 is the fellowship with other inmates who have served in the military.

"We look out each other," he said. "There is accountability for our actions."

Gary said not all the inmates who are veterans are members of Post 608.

"We hold ourselves to a higher standard," he said. "We're trying to set a good example for the other inmates."

(c)2019 The Herald Bulletin (Anderson, Ind.)
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