By Rick Hinton

When Melinda Zell began her association with the Atterbury Job Corps in February of 2005, she had no idea that her studies would also include that of the spiritual realm.

The Job Corps is located on land once occupied by the Wakeman General Hospital complex. Back in the day, the hospital left its own imprint upon the grounds of Camp Atterbury. The 47 buildings comprising the hospital were the largest of its kind in the United States during the 1940s, containing over 9,000 beds. During its tour of duty the facility treated more than 85,000 patients and was one of several of the Army’s plastic surgery centers in the country. The hospital steadfastly became a silent witness to the results of war, and to the individuals passing in and out of its doors.

Let’s speculate on the doctors and nurses who daily traversed the hallways of these buildings. Their job was to provide comfort and healing for many far beyond that happening. And of those who occupied a bed and found themselves in a position far beyond their control or understanding? Their daily life became a series of visits from these white-clad staff, charged with easing pain and addressing injuries – both physical and psychological. We should also speculate on the pain and personal turmoil these buildings absorbed during this period of time. This brewed daily, replaced by a consistent cycle of new arrivals. It can be compared to a giant sponge, soaking everything in and then gradually releasing.

In the day, the entrance into Camp Atterbury. (Submitted photo)

Many patients left on their own accord, however there were those who checked in but never checked out. In the paranormal field hospitals seem to be the greatest recipient of life-and-death drama fueling ghostly activity. Just saying. …

For however many months a Job Corps student is on grounds, these grounds essentially become their world and the campus their playground. A few have claimed that life at the center is like “living in jail.” Others, getting three meals a day and a place to sleep, have no complaints. The ramifications of the “real” world outside the perimeter fence has gradually filtered into the sheltered and controlled academic environment – drugs, alcohol, fights, sex and the stabbing of a female student in 2008. Even a heavily secured campus promoting personal advancement and achievement is not immune to outside influences.

Welcome to the Atterbury Job Corps Center! (Photo by Rick Hinton)

Yet it would appear that “things” are happening just below the surface – and not a part of Job Corps curriculum. Many buildings on the campus are indeed newer, built where former buildings used to stand. However, a far share of existing buildings has been repurposed. Renovations aside, many in the paranormal community feel that all of these locations have potential for becoming harbingers for those who have remained behind. Zell had her own dormitory encounter as a student in 2005:

“I remember being in the bathroom at 1 a.m. I heard someone come in and the stall door next to mine opened and closed. I bent my head to look under (the stall) and saw no feet. I said, ‘Hello.’ There was no answer. ‘Guys … this isn’t funny!’ I hurried up, finished and searched the entire bathroom. Nothing! My heart started pounding and then I heard a little girl’s laughter in the hall and a ball being bounced. I ran to my room. I thought I was crazy until until someone else told me they had heard the same thing!”

Is that the only paranormal story coming out of the Job Corps Center? Zell replied with a smile, “That’s just the beginning. …”

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