Keeping Veterans and Military Families Resilient

Spc. Nathaniel Wassink is reunited with his family after a 9-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2010.
Spc. Nathaniel Wassink is reunited with his family after a nine-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2010.

There is a deep-rooted belief at Home Base that “when one family member serves, the entire family serves.” Since inception, Home Base has remained committed to ensuring services are provided not just to the Veteran or Service Members who need them regardless of their discharge status or ability to pay—but also to his/her family. Home Base offers couples assessment and therapy, services for children, and counseling and support groups for the Veterans’ parents. We also offer an innovative wellness program called Resilient Family, a spin-off of our successful Resilient Warrior program.

Our Resilient Warrior and Family programs are aimed at making people more adaptable in stressful situations and tuning in to the mind-body connection. The concept of mind-body medicine means using the body to help quiet the mind. To some, it sounds like a far out concept– but in reality, says the program’s director, it is something happening every day. Home Base’s resiliency classes teach participants how to harness it and use it to their advantage.

“To understand how our mind and bodies are connected, I often tell people that if they were wearing a blood pressure cuff throughout their day, it would show that their blood pressure rise during times of stress and fall when feeling more relaxed”,” says Louisa Sylvia, PhD, Dir. of Health and Wellness at Home Base. “In our resiliency programs, we teach skills such as being in the moment, deep breathing, meditation and mindfulness… so that when stress happens, you will be more able to refocus and roll with the punches more skillfully.”

Other lessons taught include how to access a deeper state of relaxation, how to replace negative thoughts, increase social support, improve sleep and also how fitness and nutrition affect one’s coping skills. The skill-building techniques learned in each class have been scientifically shown to improve medical symptoms , mood, and well-being. For Service Members and Veterans, these skills can be immensely helpful in trying to quell hyper vigilance, something that was life-saving while they were deployed but problematic once back home. For military family members, these skills can help calm the near-constant worry of a loved one who may be in harm’s way or living with a veteran re-integrating into civilian life. They also provide an opportunity to create a sense of community with other military families and to experience a sense of support.

The Home Base resiliency programs are presented in collaboration with the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at MGH. The next round of Resilient Family and Resilient Warrior classes will begin in the next few months.  For more information or to enroll in a class, please visit homebase.org/resilientwarrior.

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About Home Base:

Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program, is dedicated to healing the invisible wounds for Post-9/11 Veterans, Service Members and their Families through world-class clinical care, wellness, education and research. As a National Center of Excellence, Home Base operates the largest private-sector clinic in the nation devoted to healing invisible wounds such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, anxiety, depression, co-occurring substance use disorder, military sexual trauma and family relationship challenges. Since its inception, Home Base has served more than 9,000 Veterans and family members with care and support, trained more than 25,000 clinicians, educators and community members nationally and remains at the forefront of discovering new treatments– ensuring a brighter future for the 21st century warrior and military family. For more information please visit homebase.org