Jeff Hudson, executive director at Operation Cruise, and ex-SOF, has first-hand experience of the benefits of the programme, having participated in the third Operation Cruise excursion with his wife. “I did not realise the full implications of all that it would do," he explains. "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."
The cruise on which Hudson took part saw an ex-SOF soldier with severe burns and severe walking disabilities and an ex-solider 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 adds.
Hudson has joined Markel in the Operation Cruise team to run the day-to-day operations of the programme and to get the message out there to other owners about how they can get involved. “One of the big things Gary has asked me to help with is to relay the message so that yacht owners hear there is no cost if they would like to donate their yacht. 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 provide all other backside support costs.”
Operation Cruise is not only looking for donations in the form of yachts, but 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 programme make a difference in the lives of wounded veterans, whether this be waved dockage fees or additional backside support costs.
“I would love to meet with owners who are considering getting involved face to face, one on one, to try to let them hear the story of what a difference they can make in someone else’s life.”
The next step for Operation Cruise, then, is to get word out about the wonderful work the programme is doing, and invite others to get involved. “We’ve got a kind of catch-22 situation. We’ve got to walk a fine line between getting the word out and remaining professional and humble," Hudson adds. "We’re just trying to get the word out for all the right reasons to some very good folk.”
Hudson is available throughout FLIBS to discuss Operation Cruise and ways of getting involved. “I would love to meet with owners who are considering getting involved face to face, one on one, to try to let them hear the story of what a difference they can make in someone else’s life,” he concludes.
Anyone attending FLIBS who would be interested in getting involved with Operation Cruise can contact Hudson on firstname.lastname@example.org.