Tim Sproles-American Legion Department of Indiana
The last time Legionnaires of the Department of Indiana saw National Commander Denise Rohan in person, it was during the 99th Annual National Convention where she was elected the American Legion’s first woman Commander on August 24, 2017.
This time, Cmdr. Rohan caught a flight to the Midwest to meet with Indiana Department staff and fellow Legionnaires from across the state.
She didn’t waste any time. Shortly after touchdown at the Indianapolis International Airport, the Cmdr. And her husband Mike where headed to the first destination, the Heritage Trail Correctional Facility Post 198.
This was Cmdr. Rohan’s first visit to an American Legion “Prison Post”.
Through these posts, incarcerated American Legion members have the ability to work on community projects and assist other veterans just like any other Legion post.
During her visit, Cmdr. Rohan visited with the 17 members and was invited to join their meeting.
Rohan said that she was extremely impressed with Post 198. She said, “This is amazing what these guys do in here. They really are a family. They are taking care of each other and I think they know that the American Legion will always look out for them”.
Post Commander, Ryan Frost said, “It was an absolute honor having the National Commander here. We have only been an American Legion Post since 2014. There are hundreds of posts around Indiana she could have visited and she came here. It just means a lot to have her here and to listen to her message”.
From there, the Cmdr. Headed to American Legion Post 495 in Indianapolis, where she was treated to dinner and took part in the Department of Indiana 11th District’s meeting.
During her remarks to the 11th District, she made reference to our states response to the recent hurricanes which left many people in both Texas and Florida in need of relief supplies.
She said, “These have been extremely tragic events, but in these times of hardships, our Legion family has shown its strength. You have all really stepped up to make a difference in the lives of these hurricane survivors. It is still hurricane season and that may lead to more hardships, but I know the Indiana Legion will be there to help”.
The following day, Rohan traveled to the Department of Indiana headquarters where she was able to tour the newly constructed Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame.
The building will pay tribute to all five branches of the military services and recognize veterans who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Organizers of the hall are currently selling engraved service memorial bricks as a fund raiser for the new facility
Col. Russell Dowden Jr. who serves as chair of the IMVHOF presented the Cmdr. with her own brick that will be placed in the prominent inner circle of the walk way.
The Cmdr. then headed to American Legion Post 500, which is located directly across the street from the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
She met with local Legionnaires and was surprised with some donations to the National Emergency Fund and Operation Comfort Warrior.
John Hannon, the Commander of Post 500, Said, “Each year our Post 500 American Legion Riders hold the Cpl. Zachary Nordmeyer Memorial Ride. Zach was the grandson of one of our members. He was killed he and other soldiers came under attack from small-arms fire while patrolling on foot near the town of Balad, about 70 miles north of Baghdad. On this last ride they raised over $12,000 for OCW. Just an amazing group of Legionnaires”.
To finished up her visit, Cmdr. Rohan spoke at the Department of Indiana’s Fall Conference. The event was live streamed through the entire state. She said that her and Mike have enjoyed learning more about the Department of Indiana and especially spending time with Hoosier Legionnaires, but in her parting words, she gave Indiana Legionnaires a homework assignment.
She said, “There are a lot of misconceptions of what the American Legion is all about. There are many people who don’t understand about our four pillars, or our numerous programs. All of those things that you do at your post to make a difference in our community. So on Veterans Day and every day that you possibly can I ask you to open the doors to your post to the community. Especially on Veterans Day. Let them come in and see for themselves exactly what the American Legion Family does each and every day”.
Cmdr. Rohan will spend the rest of the week at the American Legion National Headquarters in Indianapolis for the National Fall meetings.
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