Founded by the Owner of luxury charter yacht One More Toy Gary Markel, Operation Cruise represents a not-for-profit charitable program that provides wounded soldiers from the Special Operation Forces (SOF) with a unique opportunity for mental and physical rehabilitation by sending them on a luxury cruise. The program offers wounded and injured SOF veterans as well as their companions an exceptional marriage enrichment and rehabilitative program aboard a luxury yacht in a pristine, stress free, relaxed environment, enabling them to strengthen bonds and increase resiliency.
Operation Cruise creates a setting far removed from the pressures of deployments, war, and hospitals where wounded warriors and their significant others have the ability to focus on themselves to heal wounds, both seen and unseen. While a licensed counselor is aboard, if requested, many veterans and their mates have often discovered an ability to heal from within as they share experiences and interact with one another who’ve undergone similar difficult and arduous circumstances.
Some testimonials from the initial cruise:
“Thank you for providing our Wounded Warriors and their wives with such an extraordinary opportunity to relax, recharge and reconnect with each other.” – Denise G.
“Upon arrival of these 5 couples whom had never met they had one thing in common, they shared the same blank absent look on their faces. By the end of this trip you could read emotion on their face, in their eyes, you could hear laughter in their voices and you could see them coming back to life.” – Captain Mark.
“I was able to take my mind off of negative thoughts and feelings the entire time I was there. It made me feel both physically and mentally stronger by the time we left.” – Wounded Warrior.
Mr. Gary Markel, owner of motor yacht One More Toy founded Operation Cruise in January 2011 to assist the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Care Coalition in care of SOF wounded and injured service members and their families. In addition, OPERATION CRUISE also looks to partner with other benevolent organizations in support of America’s wounded warriors and their families. Through Mr. Markel’s efforts and donations from kind and generous patriots, OPERATION CRUISE, Inc., a 501(c)(3) covers all costs for the marriage enrichment and rehabilitative program. 100% of donations to Operation Cruise all go to support the wounded warriors and their companions. There is no expense whatsoever incurred by the veteran or their loved one.
The maiden voyage of Operation Cruise occurred in February 2011 aboard superyacht One More Toy, a 155’ Christensen motor yacht. Five wounded SOF veterans and their loved ones cruised the Virgin Islands for a week creating a forum to interact with one another under the guidance of a licensed counselor. Participants cited the voyage as a ‘blessing’ that enabled them to take their mind off negative thoughts and feelings while becoming both mentally and physically stronger. Four other sailings have occurred to include locations in the Caribbean and the US west coast. While providing an absolutely beautiful setting to nurture the strengthening of bonds and raising of resiliency to ease past burdens and better prepare for life’s challenges as a military family, perhaps the most important metric is numerous couples have literally reported the trip ‘saved their marriage.’
Mr. Markel has brought Jeff Hudson on board as the executive director for Operation Cruise. Jeff is ex-SOF and has first-hand experience of the benefits of the program, having participated in the third Operation Cruise excursion with his wife. “I did not realize the full implications of all that it would do. I knew there were folks coming from the community who were injured in different ways, but I had no way of knowing that by the end of a week how big a difference it was going to make. It was literally a transformation over a period of days,” he said. The cruise on which Hudson took part saw ex-SOF with severe burns, severe walking disabilities, and a soldier who had even died twice on the operating table. “Being in hostile situations, sometimes seeing bad things happen to good people, can be very upsetting and troubling. You are pulled out of that and see the better side of life, that there are good people who care,” Hudson added.
As a result, OPERATION CRUISE is looking to expand the program by requesting other yacht owners to also donate time aboard their vessel for this worthy cause. If yacht owners would like to donate time aboard their ships, there is no cost. If they are so kind to donate their yacht for five days, a week, however long it may be, through Gary Markel, Operation Cruise will reimburse all operating expenses. Operation Cruise is not only looking for donations in the form of yachts, but also in the form of charitable cash donations (Operation Cruise is a 501(c)(3) tax deductible charity) as well as anything that will play its part in helping the charitable program make a difference in the lives of wounded veterans, whether this be waved dockage fees or additional backside support costs. It is through these kind, generous offers to help those who’ve borne the brunt of battle in defense of the USA that keeps OPERATION CRUISE afloat offering a portal from the hardest of times to create a future ray of hope.
If you would like to assist Operation Cruise, please contact Jeff Hudson at: firstname.lastname@example.org