The Vets Ice Cream Patrol, which has been reaching out to veterans for five years, is no longer working in the shadows.

Congressman Greg Walden, R-Hood River, was in La Grande Wednesday, and he honored the patrol by presenting the members with American flags that were flown in from Washington, D.C.

Patrol members Fred Alexis, Butch Boettcher and Darrel Plank all received flags. They also accepted flags for Jerry Blankenship and Russell Fowler, a patrol member who was not able to attend the presentation. All five of the members of the Vets Ice Cream Patrol are Union County veterans.

Walden praised the Vets Ice Cream Patrol for its long-running commitment to brightening the days of veterans. He also said he hopes more groups like the Vets Ice Cream Patrol spring up around the country.

β€œI think this could catch on nationally,” Walden said.

He said he was struck by the stories members of the patrol told him about the responses they have received from the veterans they bring ice cream to.

β€œIt is a pretty simple idea but, clearly, based on the stories, it is incredibly meaningful,” Walden said.

The ice cream that the patrol provides is donated by Mike and Becky Colkitt, owners of the Union Market.