Reading, MA native, Brigadier General (ret.) Jack Hammond, has served as Executive Director of Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program, since his retirement from the U.S. Army in 2012. Hammond deployed multiple times during his time in the military, commanding troops on three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. In his years at the helm of Home Base, he has traveled all over the country to raise awareness about the work Home Base is doing to heal the invisible wounds of war. His work has brought him many miles across the country and around the world, but he is yet to meet a veteran of Iraq or Afghanistan who doesn’t know someone who took their own life. “I have lost more of my soldiers to suicide than I lost in combat,” says Hammond. “That is staggering.”
To say Hammond is passionate about Home Base’s mission would be an understatement. This July, he will take his passion to the streets of Boston, gearing up for his seventh “Run to Home Base”, a 9K run and 5K charity run/walk begins outside Fenway Park and ends with participants crossing home plate, raising necessary funds for the clinical care and support provided by Home Base. The event is one of Home Base’s largest charity events of the year, supporting the nonprofit’s mission to heal the invisible wounds for Veterans, Service Members and their Families. Invisible wounds include post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and other issues associated with the deployment cycle. This year, Home Base will honor and recognize Families of the Fallen with a special tribute on the field at Fenway.
“I’m running for all of the soldiers I have served with in combat that didn’t make it home, or who came back to the U.S. but are not whole,” Hammond explains, when asked ‘who he runs for.’ “Many people are only just beginning to appreciate the sacrifices our soldiers endure overseas. Very few people have a sense of the sacrifice made by our military families – especially those who sacrificed everything – their son, daughter, spouse, or parent.”
This year, Hammond will once again be running as part of “Team GJH,” a Run to Home Base team created by Hammond’s longtime friend – and fellow Reading native – Max McMillan. McMillan and Hammond met when they were young Rockets– playing Pop Warner football in the 4th grade. McMillan recognizes the sacrifices made by those who serve, and considers Hammond to be one of his heroes.
“Reading was a really unique place to grow up; we formed really tight friendships,” says McMillan. “I signed up for the Run to Home Base my first year to support Jack, as both a Veteran and my friend. But, now I want to do more. I created Team GJH to inspire others to run with me and raise funds for Home Base.”
Now entering its third year, Team GJH boasts over 50 runners – many of whom are also from Reading – and aims to raise $100,000 in support of Home Base. This year, many Team GJH runners hail from McMillan’s new hometown of North Hampton, NH. Team GJH has raised nearly $40,000 towards this year’s Run.
For Hammond, the experience of crossing home plate is made even more profound due to the fact he will be joined by his wife, Colleen, his children, and many of his closest friends from his hometown, all of whom are part of Team GJH.
Hammond knows better than anyone that there is still work to be done to heal the invisible wounds of war. But he and the rest of Team GJH are hopeful that the 2018 Run to Home Base will provide an opportunity for military and civilians alike to come together for a day of healing and hope.
If you would like to support Team GJH and help the runners reach the Run to Home Base fundraising finish line, please visit his 2018 Run to Home Base fundraising page below.