Dear Friends of Home Base,
Last Wednesday, the Home Base team held a moment of silence and remembrance to commemorate the victims, first responders, the military and their families, and to give thanks to the brave men and women who were impacted by the events of 9/11. As we stood in silence, I thought about the far-reaching consequences of that solemn day nearly two decades ago, which have impacted every single one of us in both small and profound ways and will likely continue to do so in perpetuity. There is a Dalai Lama quote which reads, “Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.” The ripples and actions that have unfolded from that morning in 2001 have been both terrible and great.
Of the nearly 2.8 million Service Members who have deployed since 9/11, 1 in 3 have returned with an invisible wound. The battles fought overseas are often re-fought ten times over on our own soil. Each day, 20 Veterans take their own lives. Since 9/11, more than 100,000 Veterans have been lost to suicide. We have seen some of the most severely injured Veterans, who returned home at a time when there was little regard for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) were largely misunderstood.
In this new era of seemingly endless turmoil, prolonged, back-to-back deployments have become the norm for the 1% of Americans who serve. We have seen actively serving men and women who have been on upwards of 15-20 combat deployments and more than 2,000 parachute jumps, and who have consistently – and relentlessly – been exposed to significant trauma. After eighteen years of relying disproportionately upon our Special Forces operators, there is an emerging need for mental health care for those who were the first-in and most frequently exposed to combat, resulting in a host of conditions and challenges both seen and unseen.
These wars have wrought unimaginable damage upon our nation’s Veterans and Service Members, and no population has shouldered the burden of that damage more than our Military Families. As the rates of suicides among Service Members and Veterans have risen, so too has the number of survivors impacted by the loss. The fabric of these Families has been stretched thin and – in many cases – torn, as those left behind in the wake of a loss are left to grapple with their grief alone.
For all the tragedy to emerge from the ashes of 9/11, there has also been good. In February 2008, the Boston Red Sox visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center for what was supposed to be a brief stop along their World Series trophy tour. Instead, the team spent the entire afternoon speaking with wounded soldiers. Deeply moved, Chairman Tom Werner pledged to make a sustained commitment to serving returning Veterans and their Families. He left Walter Reed that afternoon with a vision and quickly put action behind it. On September 17, 2009, two first-class institutions, the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital, launched Home Base: a program charged with caring for hundreds of local Veterans and their Families.
Today, September 17th, we mark a decade of Home Base and our mission to heal the invisible wounds for war for all those who have sacrificed tremendously on our collective behalf.
Ten years later, we have more than doubled in size and scope. Our small, regional clinic that treated 200 Veterans, Service Members and Family Members annually has transformed into a National Center of Excellence that provides world-class care and support to more than 3,500 annually. Today, our doors are open to Veterans and Service Members of ALL eras, from ALL over the nation. In 2018, we launched a first-in-the-nation program for Families of the Fallen to help heal survivors of traumatic loss. I am proud to serve at the helm of an organization committed to bringing hope back to those who lost it in the days, months, and years following the attacks on 9/11. We remain a nation at war, and our work is not done, but Home Base is poised to enter the next decade with promising stride.
Thanks to the dedication of our staff and the unwavering support of our sponsors, donors, and volunteers, Home Base has healed thousands of Veterans, Service Members, and their Families since 2009. Thank you, also, to Tom Werner for his vision, Dr. Peter Slavin for his commitment to providing the resources to put action behind that vision, and to Jack Connors for providing the keys to the city to sustain us as we embarked upon a mission to bring hope to those who have sacrificed so tremendously for our freedom. Home Base’s successes are the product of a grateful nation and the ripple effect of the collective actions of individuals committed to the greater good. As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Brigadier General (Ret.), US Army
Executive Director, Home Base
A Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program