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News Story
Updated: 04/08/2014 04:18:03PM

Veterans help behind bars

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SUN PHOTO BY ADAM KREGER
American Legion Post 405 at Charlotte Correctional Institution, south of Punta Gorda, will be just the third prison post in the state when it gets its official charter in about a month. Veterans living in a special pod use their military backgrounds to help troubled inmates with issues they may have. American Legion Department of Florida Commander Art Schwabe, right, and District 13 Commander John Dollinger (in the suit) were among the leaders that visited Post 405 Wednesday to check in on the veterans.

SUN PHOTO BY ADAM KREGER
American Legion Department of Florida Commander Art Schwabe, right, and other leaders met with inmates Wednesday at Charlotte Correctional Institution, south of Punta Gorda. Timothy Hartman, left, Gerald Herron and Wayne Thacker are among the 44 inmates housed in a pod dedicated to veterans and those they are mentoring.

SUN PHOTO BY ADAM KREGER
Charlotte Correctional Institution Warden Thomas Reid allows inmates in the veterans pod to paint murals on the walls. American Legion Post 405 is set to be just the third prison post in the state. Pictured, from left, are inmate Gerald Herron, CCI Sgt. Aaron Walker, inmate Wayne Thacker and inmate Timothy Hartman.

By ADAM KREGER

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SOUTH OF PUNTA GORDA — Rafael Herrera, 39, once had dreams of fighting for his country. Instead, he found himself fighting for a different kind of freedom.

“When I was 16, I wanted to be in the military,” he said. “But then I caught a felony.”

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