Riding strong together; Veterans snowmobile in honor of their service

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Around 150 veterans gathered at Sugar Lake to take a snowmobile ride down to Itasca not only as friends… But as brothers and sisters in arms.

Contributor to the ride and a veteran himself Larry Shepherd says, “Folks who ride, it kind of relieves their mind of all their thoughts of you know, what they saw in the service or what they did in the service.”

The snowmobile convoy ride has been going on for the past 14 years. And since last year was canceled due to COVID, the vets were very eager to ride even in Saturday’s blistering cold.

Volunteer Alan Lauer mentions that most vets feel comfortable around each other saying, "It gives them a chance to bond. It gives us a chance to meet a lot of them and find out some of their experiences that they have. And they always leave with a good feeling."

And it’s a bond they feel seems to be completely exclusive to the military service.

"Most people don’t understand, you know, what it is to be a soldier, serving in the military during the war”, says veteran Larry Shepherd.

Chad Gullickson is one vet who feels the need for communication between veterans. He says, “In my civilian job, I’m a foreman and I get stressed out at work and my wife doesn’t really understand at times, but I can call up a battle buddy of mine… and I can vent to him."

And with friendship, trust and a little bit of nature… The ride becomes extremely impactful on their lives.

Larry Shepherd says, “I had one vet call me and tell me that he didn’t commit suicide after he was on a ride because he was able to take a little clearer and enjoy some time without thinking about all of his issues. With, you know, being in the military overseas.”

It’s a powerful experience they almost never seem to forget.