What is the purpose of the Purple Heart Cruise?
Quite simply - TO GIVE BACK. To acknowledge the service and honor the sacrifice of our combat-wounded heroes and Purple Heart recipients and to let them know - they are not forgotten.
Aren't there better ways to help our veterans than a cruise?
There are many organizations, agencies and charities that provide services to help our veterans and they do commendable work. There are multiple groups that provide educational opportunities, job training classes, life skills training, physical rehabilitation, occupational therapy, medical treatment, marriage counseling, scholarships for children, etc. and they are all worthy goals. However, there are many wounded warriors who are caught up in this cycle for years that it becomes work without end or progress is so slow that it seems futile. Although treatment, therapy and rehab is necessary and important, a short break from the grinding routine is just as important for the mind, body and soul and that is what the Purple Heart Cruise is meant to provide along with our thanks for the service and sacrifice from our wounded warriors.
Isn't a cruise an extravagant expense even for veterans?
Not really, in fact, quite the opposite. In order to 'give back' we considered many travel options including tours and travel to destination cities like Las Vegas, New Orleans, Orlando, etc. for our wounded heroes but determined a cruise is actually a less expensive and a more cost-effective way to provide a unique travel experience. It is also, simpler and easier for us logistically and less physically demanding on our wounded veterans. Our warriors don't have to board buses or check into hotels multiple times, they don't have to pack and unpack their bags multiple times, they don't have to travel in traffic for meals or entertainment. And since our wounded heroes have varying degrees of mobility, capabilities and endurance; on a cruise ship - they are never more than a few minutes from their cabins, meals or entertainment.
What do the wounded warriors do on board the cruise?
One of the best things about a cruise is that you can do as much or as little as you want. All meals, including room service, is included and is available around the clock so even if our vets aren't 100% that day, they will never go hungry. Spouses and caregivers DO NOT have to clean their cabin, nor do they have to prepare or cook meals, or clean up afterwards. All on board facilities are available for their use, and many vets continue their physical therapy in the fitness centers or pools - some even take advantage of massage therapy on board. Of course, entertainment is included on the cruise, whether on the pool deck on in the showroom. We also conduct our 'Symposium at Sea' which is an on board program. But most important is the fact that our wounded heroes can have quality time with their spouses or caregivers.
What is the Symposium at sea?
Our 'Symposium at Sea' is essentially an on board 'retreat' that we conduct during our days at sea. We conduct many mandatory and optional events on board. Days in port are free days for our warriors to enjoy in their own way. This year we have a welcome aboard/indoc meeting, featured speaker(s), and organized work sessions, round table discussions, counseling and social gatherings.
Do the wounded warriors actually benefit from these cruises??
We are entering our 6th year and are still growing and evolving. However, after our first Purple Heart Cruise, a young Marine confided in me that he suffered from 'survivors guilt' for years because he survived the IED attack that killed his best friend in Afghanistan. He told me that during the cruise he felt as if his best friend told him, that it was OK, he could let go, he could move on. For him, the cruise was extremely beneficial. After our 3rd cruise, a wife of a wounded veteran wrote an email thanking me for the cruise opportunity saying that the time together on the ship with her husband allowed them to get close again and that it saved her marriage. We have received positive feedback from numerous cruise participants and many want to return at their own expense for a future cruise.
Is a Purple Heart a requirement for attending this cruise?
All Purple Heart recipients are eligible. We ask for proof of the award in the application process. Service members who were seriously injured/wounded in a training accident, an aircraft mishap, etc., will be considered on a case by case basis to attend this cruise without the Purple Heart requirement.
For our Combat-wounded
Purple Heart Cruise