For the 117 police departments that joined forces across state lines to participate in Home Base’s First Responder No-Shave campaign, it wasn’t just about growing out their beards, it was about something more: raising awareness of the invisible wounds and money to support Home Base’s mission.
For the first time during its 4-year run, the First Responder No-Shave Campaign during the month of November leveraged the support of police offices in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont who joined MBTA Transit Officer, Purple Heart recipient, and former Home Base patient Kurt Power for a month-long journey to support Home Base and honor his fallen brothers and sisters. He says transitioning back to civilian life after combat is difficult. “No one wants to talk about it. I’m not saying I do, but if it’s going to save someone’s like – that’s at the heart of all of this”, Power said. “This campaign is not just about skirting shaving guidelines for the month – it’s so much more. It starts a conversation and gets to what really matters, and that’s getting to those who really need to hear it; if I can do it – you can. If you are having trouble, just make the call today. We are all pulling for you and that’s why we are here.”
Together these Police Departments all made a pledge to forgo shaving and grooming for the month of November to evoke conversation, raise awareness and break the stigma associated with post-traumatic stress (PTS) and other invisible wounds of war.
“Whenever we can pull 117 police departments from across New England together on one common cause, that’s an incredible opportunity,” says retired Brigadier General Jack Hammond, Executive Director of Home Base. “This campaign has engaged our first responders to not only learn about the invisible wounds affecting the Veterans in their local communities but to connect at-risk Veterans to care and in the end, save lives.”
For many of the participating police officers, the mission resonated on a personal level. “It hits home for me. My father was in the military and I work with a lot of men and women in the military. It’s important to raise money and help them out,” said Belmont Police Officer Marco D’Andrea.
Patrolman Reid Larson, who has been on the Newton, MA police force for two years after more than nine in the U.S. Army, added “Giving back to veterans and military families is a great honor. It’s the most I can do to give back to them for their sacrifice for their country.”
At the end of the month-long campaign, Home Base invited the first responders for a shave-off celebration at Fenway where every single state in New England was represented. Home Base presented each participating police department with a certificate of recognition, lunch, and a special opportunity to take photos with the 2018 World Series trophy. Then it was off to the Bostonian Barbershop for a clean shave before reporting back to duty the next day.
A special thank you to all the police departments and community supporters who made the 2018 First Responder No-Shave Campaign the most successful to date. If you still interested in supporting your local police department, you can do so by clicking here.