TERRE HAUTE — Wearing khaki-colored matching uniforms, more than 20 veterans inside a maximum-security prison stood tall to salute the flag of the United States at an event that welcomed them as new American Legion members.
These men, inmates at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle, are the new members of Post 398, which received its charter, convened its first meeting and installed its officers on Thursday night.
“We appreciate you wanting to be a part of our organization,” Michael Brady, the American Legion Department of Indiana’s membership chairman, told the inmates.
Wabash Valley Correctional Facility Post 398 formally joined 384 American Legion posts in Indiana, and it is the sixth post in a correctional facility, Brady said.
The American Legion hopes to put posts in correctional facilities in Indiana “where possible” because “we want to recognize the veterans . they were veterans first,” he told the Tribune-Star.
In a ceremony that included reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the preamble to the U.S. Constitution and acknowledgment of the “empty chair” for prisoners of war and the missing in action, Kevin Hinton, 7th District commander, presented the charter and led the swearing in of the new officers.
Inmate John Miksch was selected to be the new post vice commander. He served four years in the U.S. Army as an ammunition specialist and has been in the WVCF for about two years after being convicted for manufacturing methamphetamine.
He said that joining the post is a way of giving back to the community.
“We’re all here (in prison) for a reason and it (the reason) is damaging the community” in some way, he said.
“If we can give back, it never hurts.”
Miksch had been a member of another Legion before.
“You want to have purpose and you want to have reason. . Sometimes, in prison, you lose that purpose.”