Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service. Many think this is a day to reflect on those who were lost in combat—and indeed, it is—but it also is a day to remember those who were lost because of their service.
As a combat leader in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I have lost both soldiers and friends to war. But sadly, I have lost more men and women since being home than I did on the ground in enemy territory. These Veterans, loyal and good soldiers who performed their duty on behalf of the United States, suffered from invisible wounds such as post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression… some struggled with drug and alcohol abuse to cope, while others saw no way out from their pain. 20 Veterans take their own lives every day— and for me, this is completely unacceptable.
That is why I work for Home Base and our mission to heal these invisible wounds.
That is why the entire Home Base team is constantly pushing the boundaries to find innovative new ways to treat those who are suffering.
And, that is why we work so hard to ensure the families of those suffering receive the care and support they too, have earned.
This summer we will pilot a two-week, Intensive Clinical Program for those family members who have lost a loved one to suicide. This program is being developed in collaboration with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). The patients who will attend are struggling with severe symptoms of trauma, as well as significant symptoms of grief. Our hope is to set these military family members on a path to healing, and to further change the landscape of care for those across the nation who are suffering after losing a beloved family member to suicide.
This summer we will also launch a lunchtime educational series for those family members who are dealing with a Service Member or Veteran who is battling addiction. In these sessions, folks will learn real-life strategies for coping, and, they will find support amongst others who are going through the same thing.
For far too long, a specific group of Veterans have suffered in silence, not receiving the recognition or the respect they have earned. On July 15, Home Base, along with our partners at the Red Sox Foundation, will take steps to heal the invisible wounds for the men and women who fought in the Vietnam War. In two events at Fenway Park, we will host members of the Vietnam Veteran community to recognize their service and sacrifice and give them a long overdue Boston welcome home. Nearly 60,000 of our nation’s finest made the ultimate sacrifice in that war. It is high time we salute this generation, as we mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The honor begins at the 2017 Run to Home Base and I hope to see you there.
As Memorial Day weekend approaches, I urge you to pause amidst the cookouts and activities to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation, and to say a prayer for their loved ones who have sacrificed greatly.
Thank you for supporting Home Base, and our mission to heal the invisible wounds.
Brig. Gen. Jack Hammond/Executive Director, Home Base