The Patriot Brass Ensemble is the first and only professional and national organization dedicated to serving Veterans and Military Families. In 2005 the group first performed in Ridgefield, NJ, after local resident and founder Steven Behnke was unhappy with the music at the town's Memorial Day Ceremony. He spoke to the town and secured funding to construct a new ensemble, and the effect the music had far surpassed all expectations. "We had Veterans walking up to us telling us how much it meant to them to have live music. That feeling was amazing", said Steven. Little did he know, this would become his life's work.
As the group grew over the years, it was clear that it needed to become a full time 501(c)(3) charity: in 2010, the Patriot Brass Ensemble was born. In the ensemble's first official year, they performed over 40 events for a wide range of Veterans' organizations and hospitals. These events supported local organizations such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, AMVETS, Arkansas Fallen Hero's Memorial Motorcycle Ride, The Patriot Guard of Connecticut and The Elks Army of Hope Fundraiser. They have also performed many concerts at VA Hospitals along the East Coast, including a special concert at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center before it was relocated. The ensemble was also given national attention in 2011 when it performed on "Fox and Friends".
In 2012 the Boston and Washington D.C. units were added as the first test units to a goal of creating a national network of brass and percussion. Both units performed for the year and it was clear that the model of having units based out of cities would work well in serving Veterans. With the original dream of performing at every federal and state long term care facility for Veterans, this was a major step forward. The goal has expanded to also offer these services to all Veterans for their events when military bands are unavailable.In 2013 the Patriot Brass Ensemble used the model created in Boston and Washington D.C to expand the network to Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Pittsburgh, and San Fransisco. They also made a big change in their uniform by making the tops a simple red polo to create a clean and national look for the musicians. The mission now covers one in three Americans and they plan on expanding in 2015 to add cities such as Denver, Dallas, Kansas City, Saint Louis and Seattle. As 2013 came to a close, all of the expansions were successful and the network is ready to go. If you would like to get involved and help us get the word out to Veterans in these local areas, please contact us.