Since 1868, Americans have set aside a single day in May to commemorate our fallen, to decorate their resting places with flowers and flags, and to observe a solemn day of remembrance for their sacrifice. Although this day has special meaning for me and all those who served, Memorial Day can be a tricky time for Veterans and their families as it can bring back some difficult memories. If you add in the challenges associated with a global pandemic, the need to remain connected with the people from your family and tribe could not be greater. You are all part of our Tribe here at Home Base,
I had the honor of leading and serving alongside some of the best Soldiers in the world during combat operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. As a team we overcame what seemed to be insurmountable challenges. When we traveled into hostile villages or cities, we each focused on our individual jobs, because we knew someone always had your back, and together we could accomplish anything.
Kipling famously remarked that the “Strength of the Wolf is with the Pack, and the strength of the Pack is with the Wolf.” For many of us, the real challenges started when we came home and we were no longer part of “the Pack.” That is why Home Base makes a significant effort to bring Veterans and their families together in-person or virtually.
Like many combat leaders, I have lost both soldiers and friends to war. But sadly, I have lost more men and women to suicide after returning home than I did in combat. We now more fully understand the effects of the invisible wounds of war, and the fatal outcome when these wounds remain untreated, and your support has allowed Home Base to develop a full range of programs to treat these injuries.
More than 10 years ago, Home Base was built on a foundation of intense loyalty and unwavering dedication to the men and women who serve and protect our country – serving as a source of hope and healing for those impacted by the invisible wounds. More than 25,000 people have been treated at Home Base over the past decade and this life-saving care has saved thousands.
Each Memorial Day we honor the sacrifice of our warriors and that of their families. We will often share stories of the heroic lives and remember them fondly. Last week, Home Base, in partnership with Resisim, an Israeli organization dedicated to shining light on the power of storytelling within our military community, hosted a live and virtual Veterans storytelling event: Beyond the Battlefield: Veterans Share, Remember, and Honor. It was a tremendous and powerful event that brought warriors from these two nations together with our Home Base family so that we can collectively share these burdens.
These days more than ever, many people are seeking a greater sense of closeness and community. As we come together this weekend with our tribes and communities, please take a moment to remember those who sacrificed their tomorrow’s so that we can enjoy our todays.
Brigadier General (Ret) Jack Hammond
Executive Director, Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and
Massachusetts General Hospital Program