Legion Riders + Santa, a dose of good news

American Legion Riders bring gifts to Whitehouse family

For the Whitehouse family, Christmas came a little early this year.

Disabled American Veterans Department of Indiana Legislative Chairperson Judy King and American Legion Riders took Retired Sergeant First Class Phillip Whitehouse and his family presents Wednesday evening.

King said this came about in two ways: first, she was asked to check on retired veteran Phillip Whitehouse, and she was asked to find a family for the Legion to adopt.

“At the end of October, I received a text asking me if I would check on a veteran in Shelby County,” King said. “I said I was in Florida and I would when I got home. They said ‘okay, I want to tell you his story.’

“Last year, we had met a Gold Star Mom, meaning she lost her son or daughter in combat,” she continued. “We adopted her last year because the Legion Riders, that’s what they do, they adopt families. We adopted her last year, carried her a Christmas tree, cookies and poinsettia. So this year, they asked me to find a family. And I said, I got one.”

Whitehouse retired from the Army as a Sergeant First Class in October of 2019 after 21 years.

“I joined the military straight out of high school in 1998,” Whitehouse said. “I joined as a military policeman, and went to basic training out in Fort McClellan, Alabama. I served 21 years. I did two tours in Iraq, and two tours in Afghanistan.”

“I was wounded in Iraq in 2003 by an improvised explosive device on the side of the road,” he continued. “I received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with ‘V’ Device for Valor.”

While he was stationed in Hawaii, he met his wife, Wanda, also a veteran. They’ve been together for six years and have three kids.

“So while we were both stationed in Hawaii, we met there, and then we connected two or three years later, while she was out of the military and I was still in,” Whitehouse said. “We’ve been married almost five years, been together six.”

Retirement has been “short so far,” Whitehouse said.

“Pretty much right after retirement is when I got sick, so I haven’t been able to enjoy it that much,” he said.

In June, he stepped on a nail on his deck, and it didn’t heal properly. When he went to the doctor, he was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a rare bone marrow disorder, and Leukemia.

“The way I am is that there’s always somebody worse off than I am,” he said. “I knew that I was strong enough and my family