Veterans Ride for Free

Louise Oleson, DLJ Managing Editor
At Monday’s City Commission meeting Jack Volk, from the DAV and the 40 + 8,* presented Mayor Dick Johnson with a certificate of appreciation from the city’s vets for his support and encouragement for the Veterans Ride For Free program.

The veterans of Devils Lake have a new service provided for them through the cooperative efforts of the City of Devils Lake and its partners.

If you are a veteran or active military you can receive free rides from your home to any medical clinic or facility in the city.

Jack Volk, commander of the DAV and the 40 + 8* came to Monday’s Devils Lake City Commission meeting to provide the commissioners with the information that the program “Veterans Ride for Free” was officially up and running in the city, thanks in large part to Mayor Dick Johnson and his fellow commissioners.

Volk explained that when he first heard about the idea he brought it to Mayor Johnson and right away he liked the idea and gave it his support.

Not only that, but at a subsequent City Commission meeting they voted to provide funding for the program, kicking in $2,500. The VFW, DAV, AmVets and American Legion each donated $500 bringing the fund up to over $4,000.

That money will go a long way as the “normal” fee for a ride is $6.

If you’re a vet

If you are a vet and would like to take advantage of this program there is something you need to do to get started.

First, you need to find your military ID, VA card, DD2-14 or drivers license with the “V” for veteran on it.

If you need help getting one, see Stacy Twete, the Ramsey County Veterans Services Officer (VSO) in the Ramsey County Courthouse - he can help you with that.

Bring that card with you, or some other way you have to prove that you are a veteran or active military personnel, to the Devils Lake Senior Center, 202 4th Ave. NE, and see Pat Hejlik.

Hejlik will verify that you are a veteran or active member of the military and put your name and contact information on a list.

She is in charge of the Devils Lake City Transit which will come and pick you up when you need to go to the doctor, or dentist, or pharmacy, or have an eye appointment - any and all medical-related appointments within the city limits. Even mental health appointments at the Lake Region Human Services Center are included in the list of services you can get free rides to. All at no charge to you.

In fact, Volk explained that the only time a veteran might be billed for the service is if he makes an appointment and doesn’t show up for it. In that case, they will not make the program cover the cost, but directly bill the vet who missed the appointment.

So if you make an appointment to be picked up by the City Transit and have to cancel, make sure you call and let them know you do not need their services so they don’t go all the way to your home and find you not there.

What do you do?

Once you have registered at Devils Lake Transit, have proven your veterans status and your name’s on the list, then all you have to do is call the next time you need a ride to and from the doctor - no matter which clinic or medical services you need.

Number to call

The number to call for Devils Lake Transit’s Veterans Ride For Free is 662-5061.

Other services are available for rides out of town or to the VA Clinic, check with the local VSO if you are unaware of those services.

*Who are the 40 + 8?

The 40 + 8 is a spin-off group from the American Legion. It was a World War II veterans club named for the box cars during WWII that carried 40 men and 8 horses each; they were the 40 + 8. Volk says the group used to be quite active in Devils Lake and the Lake Region, but not in recent years. A resurgence of interest is reviving the club in the community. Volk,  who served in the U.S. Army and National Guard July 1971 until he retired from the Guard in August of 2005, serves as its commander.