The Veteran Outreach Team: Answering the ‘Home Base’ Call of Duty

The needs of Post-9/11 Veterans, Service Members, and their Families are of particular importance to the entire Home Base staff, but for Home Base’s Veteran Outreach Coordinators (VOC), it is the belief in Home Base’s mission and their personal journeys that drive them to further their commitment to serving their country and fellow veterans

“Soldiers perpetuate a lifelong camaraderie,” said Bill Davidson, Director of Veteran Outreach for Home Base. “Some of the world’s best clinicians provide the therapy at Home Base, but it’s our veteran-to-veteran connection that is most often referred to as the “secret sauce” of success.”

Davidson is a Senior Enlisted Advisor (SEA) for the Massachusetts National Guard and has proudly served for more than 30 years. In his military career, he has served two combat tours in Afghanistan with the most recent as the Task Force Command Sergeant Major in Kabul in 2011-2012. Now, he’s leading a team dedicated to fighting for Veterans at home and making sure they get the available services they need and deserve.

“It makes common sense to take care of your own,” added Laura Lakin, Associate Director of Veteran Outreach and Peer Support at Home Base, and First Lieutenant of the Massachusetts National Guard. “No veteran is the same, but what we all have in common is serving this country.”

The VOCs serve as the critical “boots on the ground” liaisons between Home Base and the Veteran community, connecting them to a place that can help them overcome personal challenges. They are also part of Home Base’s clinical team, working alongside clinicians to provide support throughout the treatment process, translate military lingo and bring battlefield perspective to meetings with Home Base staff. They also play a role in helping patients stick to what can be an intense treatment period and offer critical feedback from patients to clinicians.

National statistics indicate that, on average, 20 Veterans commit suicide every day for various reasons involving PTSD and related mental health concerns. This data has become unacceptable for Davidson, Lakin, and the 11 additional members of the Veteran Outreach team.

“It’s okay to come in and say ‘I need help. Things aren’t right, and I want to be whole again, just show me the tools how I can do it’,” said John Quinn, Home Base Veteran Outreach Coordinator and Veteran of the 101st Airborne Division (AASLT) in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps. “Getting Veterans to come out of the shadows can be a challenge, but our goal is to break that silence and help people become whole again.”

Recognizing that engaging Veterans on their own terms is especially crucial in the area of mental health, each VOC has a specific line of effort, which includes Family,  Affinity Groups, Diversity, Government, Colleges & Universities, and local Conferences and Events. “These specific lines of efforts ensure that we reach as many Veterans as we can, and regardless of discharge status, service experience, and personal background, they connect to care and support at Home Base,” added Davidson.

In 2016, the VOCs added a new job to their duty roster – 24/7 liaisons to the Intensive Clinical Program (ICP), a two-week immersion where Veterans around the country are brought to Boston to receive critically needed therapy as well as stress reduction and mindfulness training.

Regardless of their specified lines of effort, the VOCs acknowledge that, for many Veterans, Service Members, and Families, it can be difficult to navigate the sea of emotions that often come with reintegration into civilian life. They become the first beacon of hope and the anchor that keeps them grounded until the end, plotting them to their course of recovery and amazing transformations.

“I have had the privilege of seeing firsthand over the last several years the positive impact Home Base can have in the lives of our patients,” said Lakin. “The hardest part of my job is interacting with fellow Veterans that I know could use our help but are still reluctant or scared to come in because I know how much their life could improve. The easiest part of my job is telling people that with conviction, PTSD is not a lifelong diagnosis; it is treatable and curable. Hopefully, that message can slowly begin to resonate in the Veteran community so that more are willing to give the treatment a shot.”

See the VOCs tell their story, in their words below.