Dear Friends of Home Base,
As Sebastian Junger wrote in Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, one of the most profound questions a person can ask themselves is: “What would you risk dying for – and for whom.” Many people will go a lifetime without having to face that question. But for those who have answered the call to serve this great nation, the question has been answered a thousand times over: for freedom, for country, for family, and for the brothers and sisters we serve alongside.
Veterans Day is a tribute to the millions of Americans who have bravely answered this question and selflessly placed themselves in harm’s way to safeguard our people, values, and freedoms. Generations of Veterans have deployed to the darkest corners of the world, shouldering the heaviest burdens, and leaving behind loved ones for months or years on end. From Hamburger Hill to Fallujah, our Veterans have stood at the gates to protect us from all those who wish to do us harm.
Of the nearly 2.8 million Service Members who have deployed since 2001, 1 in 3 will return with an Invisible Wound. Hundreds of thousands of Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan alone require treatment for these injuries. The battles fought overseas are often re-fought again ten times over on our own soil. Each day, 20 Veterans take their own lives. Since September 11, 2001, more than 100,000 Veterans have been lost to suicide. As Junger wrote in Tribe, our Veterans “often come home to find that, although they’re willing to die for their country, they’re not sure how to live for it” when they return home.
The wars continue, and so Home Base’s mission to heal the Invisible Wounds must also continue. Two weeks ago, many of you watched as we unveiled our new Center of Excellence in the Charlestown Navy Yard. This is the first and largest private-sector clinic in the nation dedicated solely to caring for our wounded and injured warriors, and it will provide us with the space and resources required to maximize our potential. We have built a model of care that allows us to compress a year of therapy into just two weeks with off-the-chart results. Moving forward, we will build on this work and implement a new model of care for traumatic brain injury (TBI), we will expand treatment options for our Families of the Fallen, and we will continue to develop new and innovative treatments to ensure a brighter future for our Veterans.
As we honor our Veterans this weekend, I implore you to remember the price they have paid for our collective security. Most Americans will never be called upon to serve as Teddy Roosevelt’s “man (or woman) in the arena,” but I believe we all have a duty to “stand in solidarity” with the men and women who have. President John F. Kennedy once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” The polarization of this nation has reached an unhealthy level, and We the People must do something about it. The late Senator John McCain once said, “We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe.” Like many Veterans, I have seen the end result of tribalism and divisiveness. I have looked upon the mass graves of Bosnia, the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, and have witnessed what happens to countries when its citizens turn on each other over religious, ethnic, or political viewpoints. This Veterans Day, I ask you to put action behind the words, “Thank You For Your Service.” You can help to ensure that our veterans return home to welcoming and peaceful communities, by pushing back against the growing tribalism that produces resentment and hate.
On Sunday November 11th, I hope you will join us for an “Hour of Hope” by watching our 4th Annual Home Base Veterans Day Television Special. It will now air in 4 separate States on ABC News affiliates WCVB Channel 5 in Massachusetts, WMUR Channel 9 in New Hampshire, WMTW Channel 8 in Maine, or ABC Channel 7 in Florida from 7:00-8:00 PM. You will hear from stories from Veterans and their families who have experienced difficulties as they returned from the battlefronts, and how Home Base – and supporters like you – gave them hope. Viewers have an opportunity to make donations to Home Base throughout the telethon, and all funds raised go directly to support our mission.
On behalf of our esteemed partners, the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital, and our entire Home Base team, thank you for all that you do to champion our organization. And to our nation’s Service Members, Veterans and Families, we stand by you and we stand with you – this weekend, and always. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice. Your mission is complete, but ours has just begun.
Brigadier General (Ret.), US Army
Executive Director, Home Base
A Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program