Often, the most memorable, life changing moments in our lives come unexpectedly.  They start will a simple idea or gesture. 

The Cortlandt Yacht Club of Montrose, NY recently hosted seven wounded service members and their families and six Gold Star Families for a boat ride along the Hudson River.  Hope For The Warriors® was proud and honored to be a part of this beautiful, family event.

The idea began with a daughter asking her father if she could invite some friends onto their boat one weekend.  Her friends included a wounded service member and a Gold Star Family.

 

Her father agreed and then shared their weekend plans with other members of his yacht club.   That sparked more ideas, interested families and donations.   Other members stepped forward, eager to join in the caravan of boats.  The Ossining Elks Club offered to host a BBQ for all of the families too.

 

Hope For The Warriors® was called when they realized just how many families and people that the group would be able to accommodate.  We brought seven wounded service members with their families who lived in the area for an event that the group called “Salute to Freedom.”

 

Family Support

Although the event was part of our Outdoor Adventures Program, it was also part of our Family Support Program.  Our military family members serve alongside the service members that they love.  When a service member returns wounded, it can impact the entire family—physically, emotionally, financially and socially.  Our programs are developed to address the needs of the service member as well as the family members who support them.  The “Salute to Freedom” could have also been called “Salute to Families.”

 

Up the River

A group of boats cruised north along the beautiful Hudson River, learning history of the area as they traveled.  They passed West Point Academy and the Wizard of Oz castle.  (The castle from the Wicked Witch of the West.)  Floating up the river provided a great, new view of the area, even for families who had lived in upstate New York their entire lives.

 

Honor Given

The most inspiring moment came as a complete surprise to everyone in the group.  A friend had asked that they float by the Newburgh Boat Show at the Riverfront Marina.  When they arrived, they saw the U.S. Coast Guard cutter, Hawser, which was on display for the show.  As the group passed slowly, the officers and crew of the cutter stood at attention, saluting each service member and each family member. 

 

This event made a huge impact on both the families that attended and the families that volunteered their boats and their times.  The military families all shared how special they felt and how much they enjoyed their time in the group, socializing with others and seeing the beautiful sights.  Some also shared the challenges they have encountered, getting out and socializing since their service member returned home wounded.  This event provided each of the families a day to enjoy and relax with each other, strengthening the family unit.

 

Giving Back

By the end of the day, it was unclear of which group was more moved by the day—the military families or those from the yacht club that volunteered their time and resources.  The man whose daughter started it all shared:

“Those of us who are not directly involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to take for granted all the wonderful things that make our life and our freedom so special.”

 

“A day with the people who have actually stood up and fought and sacrificed for these freedoms and our way of life was the most stirring of days.  We were all humbled by their sacrifices and the damage to their bodies, minds and families.  We all realized just how fortunate we are and it is all because of the men and women in this country who have put themselves in harm’s way for our freedom and security.”

 

Thank you to the Cortlandt Yacht Club, their members, the Ossining Elks Club and everyone else who made the day fun and relaxing for our military families!