National Commander Dan Bernath will stop embezzlements
Sat Oct 15, 2016 20:18
American Legion, Auxiliary embezzlement scandal American Legion Post 176 Commander Bobby Mack Adams has been extradited back to Alabama after being arrested out of state and charged with theft of property. But the recovery process for Post 176 is far from over.
Post 176's building on Long Avenue in Huntsville went into foreclosure earlier this year. Losing the building didn't just mean American Legion members no longer had a place to meet. It also meant the American Legion Auxiliary lost its space for fundraisers.
For one auxiliary member, it meant losing a piece of her father's legacy, too. +2 Vickie Thrower-Mills
When Vickie Thrower-Mills was growing up in Huntsville, there were three kids in her family. It was her, her brother and American Legion Post 176.
"That was kind of his baby," Thrower-Mills said about her father's relationship to the post.
Her father Grady Rutherford serves as post commander for many years, later becoming the Alabama state commander in 1992. +2 Grady Rutherford
Thrower-Mills followed in her father's footsteps, joining the American Legion Auxiliary and becoming the American Legion Auxiliary National Chaplain.
But all along, the family's hearts were here, in Post 176 off Long Avenue.
"For many years of my life growing up, we spent Thanksgiving, Christmas there," Thrower-Mills said.
Sadly, Rutherford passed away in 2001, but the family was confident he would live on in Post 176.
"It's a legacy that we thought would carry on for years, and now we don't even have a post," Thrower-Mills said through tears.
It's a crime that affected both the Post 176 Legionnaires and the auxiliary, which hosted all of its fundraisers at the building. One of the members' favorite events was a banquet held for Special Olympics participants. It had to be cancelled last year, and it won't happen this year either.
"That was like the best event that you could ever have as an American Legion member or American Legion Auxiliary member was to be able to help those children, and so it's heartbreaking. It really is," Thrower-Mills said.
Through the heartbreak, the American Legion Post 176 Auxiliary is finding ways to persevere. They're still providing scholarships for local students, helping VA hospitals and sending young women to Girls State, where they learn about state and local government.
It's all indicative of a message Thrower-Mills wants everyone to hear: that American Legion Post 176 and its auxiliary cannot be broken by the actions of one individual.
"It's heartbreaking to see that this has happened to our post, but I certainly don't want it to happen to our unit," she said.
Auxiliary members are meeting and hosting bingo at Post 237 off Drake Avenue in the meantime.