The announcement last week that free rides are available to military veterans who have hospital appointments in St. Louis certainly was well received. It’s a great service for the men and women who served their country in the military.

The program is conducted by the Volunteer Transportation Network, which is under the sponsorship of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Disabled American Veterans. A minivan driven by volunteers is taking veterans to VA hospitals in St. Louis Monday through Friday. It’s only for veterans who have made appointments through the VA.

The van leaves from the VA clinic in Washington. The clinic is located in the shopping center where Walmart is located, off Highway 100 East. Veterans must call (314) 478-3144 to schedule a ride.

Efforts will be made to get a new vehicle for the program. The van being used has a large number of miles on it. A new van will cost about $28,000. If half of that can be donated, the DAV would pay the other half, or $14,000. It would be great if one of our outstanding civic clubs would stage a fund-raiser for a new van.

More volunteer drivers are needed. Volunteers should call (314) 289-6393 for information. The ride service is not for emergencies.

The VA clinic here also is a great service for veterans. And, now to offer free rides to VA hospitals is the icing on the vets’ cake. Our elderly veterans with health problems deserve all the help we can give them.