Home Base Volunteer Highlight: Bill Rose

U.S. Navy Veteran Bill Rose has volunteered with nearly every single cohort of the Home Base Intensive Clinical Program (ICP) since the two-week program’s inception in 2015.

“Except for one,” he admits, modestly, when we asked him about his experience volunteering with Home Base. With participation in 30 of the 31 of completed cohorts through the end of 2017, Bill’s consistent involvement is no small feat.

Bill was a Red Sox fan long before he became involved with Home Base; he first learned about the program while attending a game at Fenway. His career in the computer start-up world piqued his interest in involving himself with a results-oriented start-up. Over the years, he has witnessed – first hand – Home Base evolve from a small, Boston-based program to the National Center of Excellence it is today.

As a Vietnam War Veteran, he was proud when Home Base announced it would open its doors to Veterans of ALL eras. With a draft number of 311, Bill’s chances of being drafted were slim. However, he took his fate into his own hands and volunteered to serve. He mentions high school friends who never returned from the war, and laments the fact there was no “Home Base” when those he served with returned after their deployments.

“I’m an American,” he says, simply. “Our job is to do the best we can here.” In Home Base, Bill saw an opportunity to contribute to something larger than himself. He initially became involved with Home Base as a member of the Red, White, and Blue Alliance (RWBA), which is a group of local community members who volunteer their time, talents and networks to help Home Base expand its outreach in the New England area and across the country.

After a year on Home Base’s Red, White, and Blue Alliance, Bill was ready to take on more. He met with Home Base’s Executive Director, retired Brigadier General Jack Hammond, and asked what more he could do to help. At that point, the ICP was launching and, while the patients’ days were booked with everything from group therapy to Thai Chi, there was a need for evening activities. Knowing the patients would be coming from all over the nation, Bill wanted to provide them with an opportunity to explore Boston. He used some of his connections and called up a friend at the Old North Church, arranging for a special after-hours tour of the Church exclusively for the ICP Veterans.

He also worked with his friends in the Navy to arrange for the ICP cohorts to begin visiting another Boston icon: the USS Constitution. The special tours he arranged enabled the Veterans to tour parts of the ship that are off-limits to the general public.  This access was such a unique experience for the Veterans that some of them even carried their Service Dogs all the way down to the keel.

These tours with Bill are memorable and meaningful to many of the Veterans participating in the ICP. Bill treasures a thank you note he received from one of the cohorts he brought around Boston: “Thanks for taking care of us soldiers, sir,” one Veteran wrote, while another simply wrote: “Semper Fidelis.”

“They volunteer. Their country asked them to do this and they get the rotten end of the stick,” he explains, when asked about why it is so important to give back to this population. For Bill, victory is attained when a Veteran can leave Home Base with a sense of hope and freedom from their wounds. He wants the Veterans he sees to be able to describe themselves as just that – a Veteran – without also having to associate themselves with the burden of an Invisible Wound or disability.

Through his involvement with the ICP, Bill attended one of the ‘graduation ceremonies,’ which culminate a Veteran’s two-weeks of treatment at Home Base. He describes a marked difference between the Veterans at the start of their time at Home Base and at the time of their graduation.

“The ICP gives them freedom,” Bill says, simply. “That’s what is remarkable about what Home Base is able to do.”

After over four years of volunteering with Home Base, Bill continues to see his involvement as an opportunity for him to make things better for the Veterans Home Base serves. When asked what he would say to someone who was considering giving back to Home Base, he is quick to respond.

“That 1% absorbs more pain than the other 99% put together,” Bill said, referring to the mere 1% of Americans who serve and sacrifice for our freedoms. “As a society,” he continues, “What do we owe these folks? We can’t forget them…or we forget who we are.”

Bill’s many hours of volunteer work are a testament to his dedication to serve Veterans. We are grateful for his ongoing contributions to the Home Base mission!

If you are interested in volunteering for Home Base, please visit homebase.org/volunteer  or contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Joyce Donadio, at jmdonadio@partners.org.

Home Base’s ICP is made possible through a groundbreaking collaboration with the Wounded Warrior Project’s Warrior Care Network. In the ICP, transportation, lodging, meals, and treatment are fully covered. Close to a years’ worth of therapy is provided in two-weeks’ time, allowing Veterans to be put on a path to lifelong healing.