Ed and Christine Mason began Patriot Cruise and Salute (PCS) on Memorial Day 2007.
How did it begin? The answer is two-fold. During the deployment of Colonel Ed Mason to Iraq, Christine was holding down the home front. As fate would have it, Christine’s cousin was sent to Walter Reed for treatment from injuries sustained in Iraq. He spent six months there receiving treatment. Christine saw firsthand how these warriors are in need of a respite from the surroundings of a hospital environment.
When Colonel Ed Mason returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he served as Commander, 101st Soldier Support Battalion (Destiny Support), he was assigned to the U.S. Army Human Resources Command. He was chosen to execute a Secretary of the Army initiative resulting in the establishment of the Wounded Soldier and Family Hotline (WSFH). The purpose of the hotline is to offer wounded, injured and ill soldiers and their family members a way to share concerns on the quality of patient care as well as provide senior Army leaders visibility on medically-related issues.
Christine and Ed, feeling blessed with life’s good fortune, decided to take the WSFH one step further by offering wounded warriors residing at Walter Reed, and their families, a day of respite. What began informally on Memorial Day 2007, with one boat (the Masons’ American Spirit) hosting eight veterans stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, has blossomed into a District of Columbia non-profit corporation (Federal Tax ID# 26-4798173) with tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
In October 2011, Patriot Cruise and Salute expanded to a second location. cThe Mid-Potomac Power Squadron hosted wounded soldiers from the newly opened Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. The event was held at the marina of Aquia Harbor, Virginia. The D.C. event has grown to approximately 200 volunteers aboard 45 boats who host approximately 60 veterans and their family members during a cruise on the Potomac River followed by a donated picnic lunch and entertainment. It is a day the veterans and their family members never forget!
The Patriot Cruise and Salute vision can be expanded to anywhere there are boaters and patriotic Americans who want to honor wounded, ill or injured veterans. Ed and Christine Mason hope to expand to other locations across the country to honor more deserving veterans. Anyone interested in being sponsored to host a Patriot Cruise and Salute event should contact them via their website: http://www.patriotcruise.org.