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American Legion promoting
its activities to the community

One goal is to get more younger veterans involved

(January 2017) – The leadership and members of American Legion Post No. 9 in Madison, Ind., are not concerned with changing the image of their post. They know they have a good image. They just want more people to know about that image.
“We are here for the community,” said Post Commander Mike Hunt.
There is a long list of things the Legion does for the community, he said. “Each year, we send five to 10 juniors to Hoosier Boys State and Girls State at Indiana University,” Hunt said. “We are here to help the community. It is in our national charter to provide service to the community.”
“We provide at least 20 scholarships, anything to do with kids,” Hunt continued.

Photo by John Sheckler

From left, American Legion Post No. 9 Commander Mike Hunt and Second Vice Commander Davey Harmon pose at the Madison, Ind., Legion building.

Hoosier Boys State and Girls state at Indiana University is Indiana’s premier leadership program for youth.
The Legion also is active in the local community, he said.
“Our Honor Guard is our crown jewel,” said Second Vice Commander Dave Harmon. “We did 144 events so far this year, and we get compliments from even full bird colonels. For people who have a loved one in the military service, the Honor Guard gives them insight into what their relatives, father and uncles did in the military. We reach across America at the cemetery.”
The American Legion Honor Guard is also an active participant at local parades, Veterans’ Day memorial services and on the Fourth of July.
“We try hard to host benefits for anyone in the community who needs help,” Harmon continued. “We collect blankets for the homeless at American Legion bike rides. They give the blankets to the Madison Police, Hanover Police, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and Salvation Army. Blankets are in the cruisers so police can give them when they find a cold homeless person on the streets.”
The Legion reaches out to local charities by offering free or very low cost access to the park next to the Legion Hall. The park is complete with a large shelter, grill and game areas.
Big Brothers and Big Sisters used the park for its annual picnic last summer. “It is a great facility due to the size and the layout of the park,” said Gina Freeman of the organization. “We were able to invite our Satellite Matches from Carroll County, Ky. It was great with playground equipment, bathrooms and grills on site.”
“Changes to the park are under development so we can expand the usage for charitable organizations,” Harmon said proudly.
“We were the ninth post to start in Indiana,” Hunt said. “We date back to Nov. 29, 1920. The American Legion started in France with the guys still on occupation duty. It is now the largest veterans’ club in the nation. Many Legion members have dual membership with the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and have worked together to get the government to grant health care for all veterans.”

Photo by John Sheckler

Pictured is the American Legion building on Jefferson Street in Downtown Madison, Ind.

The original Post No. 9 Legion building burned down in 1977, and the new building was completed in 1978. “I have been coming here since I was a kid,” Hunt said.
But American Legions and other public service organizations across the nation are facing a challenge, Hunt said. “Every civic organization in the country is facing the problem that members are getting older and not being replaced by younger members. We need new blood to bring energy.”
Another way the Legion is working in the community is by being open to the public for meals and events.
The Legion is open to the public for breakfast and lunch.
“We have a great kitchen,” Hunt said. The kitchen is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Weekend events are also open to the public. There are live bands with no cover charge from 8 p.m. to midnight several times a month.
“It is our way to tell the community how much we appreciate their support,” Hunt said.
The country and rock band performances have included Shock Treatment, Jimmy Davis, Darryl Hewett and Fink, Cross Fire, and Silver Wings.
American Legion Post No. 9 is the only post in the ninth district to have a baseball team. “There were only 20 teams in the state,” Hunt said. “There used to be that many in our district, which covers the southeast corner of Indiana.”
“We are trying to hold it together to save some of the traditions,” Harmon added. “We hope some of the others will come back. We owe credit to the coaches Tim Armstrong, Joe Jenner and Doc Boyd for keeping the team alive.”
Hunt and Harmon are working hard to attract new membership. “Anyone honorably discharged is eligible,” Hunt said.
“Ladies can join, children of vets can join and any family member in direct blood line can join,” Harmon added. “We welcome sons and daughters, husbands and fathers, and women.”
People can find eligibility requirements at www.Legion.org.
Veterans Service Office Joe Devito of the Jefferson County Veterans Council comes to the Legion on the first Wednesday of each month from noon to 4 p.m. to help veterans find their DD214 discharge forms so they can join the Legion or receive other veterans’ services.
“If a person is on active duty, his membership is free,” said Hunt. “We love it when kids come home on leave and come see us and talk to some guy who served at the same base 40 years ago.”
“They get a nice little history lesson down here,” said Harmon. “It is very nostalgic. The World War II members are almost all gone.”
“It is nice when we see younger vets show an interest in the Legion,” said Harmon. “We offer an invitation to all vets with questions to come on the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m.”

• For more information, visit www.Legion.org or visit the American Legion Post No. 9 at 707 Jefferson St. in Madison.

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