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Veterans on Padre Island work to create an American Legion Post

When Art Wallace and Steve Armstrong decided to start an American Legion, the idea took off and it is quickly gaining support from dozens of other veterans.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — There is said to be a good number of retired veterans who now live on Padre Island.

So you might be surprised to learn there has never been a gathering place like a VFW or American Legion on Padre Island. 

A group of local veterans are working to change things by creating their own post on the Island. 

When Art Wallace and Steve Armstrong get together, it doesn't take long before the conversation turns to their time in the service.

Wallace served in the army until 2014 when he retired.

Armstrong spent 24 years in the Navy before he retired out of Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.

"Loved the area so much, this is home," Armstrong said. 

Turns out, there are many more veterans who also call the Island home than they realized. So when they decided to start an American legion, the idea took off and gained support from dozens of others.

"Went from a crazy idea to something that is now in motion to full speed," Wallace said. 

The men believe a post closer to home will benefit all who live there on the island.

"If a veteran has issues with VA claims and things of that nature, having the post on the island gives a veteran a place to go and say hey I'm having issues, I need help," Wallace said. 

Currently, it's still in the beginning stages. The vets choosing to form an American legion versus a VFW in hopes it will reach more people who are eligible. That's because the VFW serves veterans who spent time overseas in a combat zone.

"Bottom line, we are all veterans, are all brothers," said Commander Lazaro Camarillo with the VFW Post 2397.

Camarillo shared his support for the idea.

"That's great, because they can get more information they can get, and they don't have to come all the way down to Kostoryz," Camarillo said. 

The organization was approved for a temporary charter to bring Post 229 to the Island. The next step is establishing a chain of command within the post and finding a place to house the post, something that's proving to be difficult because of the high cost of the market.

"We have a couple of prospects but that is all that it is for now but real-estate is a challenge right now," Wallace said.

No matter the challenge, the veterans are moving forward knowing an Island post will give back to the community.

"And to our fellow brothers and sisters who served," Armstrong said. 

A Gofundme has been started to help the men raise money for their effort.

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