A Special Veterans Day Message from Retired Four-Star U.S. Army General Fred Franks

Dear Friends of Home Base,

This year we celebrate 100 years from the original Armistice Day to end World War I November 11, 1918. Armistice Day became Veterans Day in 1954. On this Veterans Day here in Southwest Florida, I want to reach out to all my fellow veterans and their families to thank them for their selfless service to our nation in our Armed Forces. I also want to thank the entire in Southwest Florida community for your continuing support of those who have served.

We honor on this Veterans Day, this special day in America and now this special National Military and Families Month, all those who selflessly served our nation and what we stand for and we honor their families. We also honor those who serve today, those deployed around the world, many in combat daily.

I truly believe that when men and women from across America selflessly volunteer to serve in our Armed Forces – that one half of one percent of our population who do – that one in 200, who willingly take the oath to support and defend our Constitution, with their lives as that might be necessary –  there is an implied trust that we will be there for them when their duty and mission are complete. To be there for them to help them and their families transition back into communities, with educational opportunities, with employment opportunities, and yes, with medical assistance for visible and invisible wounds of war from that service.

In our five-county region of Southwest Florida there are over 107,000 veterans from all eras of service, about 8-10 percent of our population. I believe our community teamwork across our region from individuals, businesses, colleges and universities, veteran volunteer organizations, and the VA work hard to fulfill that trust. My wife and I are proud to live in a community that honors and respects the service of our veterans and daily works to fulfill that trust.

But fulfilling that trust never stops. We can always do more.

I want to call your attention to Home Base Southwest Florida Program. We started it here in Southwest Florida in late February 2014 to empower local veterans and warriors to take control of their physical well being, provide tools to help manage stress and provide complex care for those in need of treatment for the invisible wounds. What began as a health and fitness program for veterans has transformed into something with even more impact: a community. To date, Home Base Southwest Florida has served more than 700 veterans and family members. Our director is a Naples native, FGCU Graduate and USMC combat Veteran, Armando Hernandez.

Our vision was to grow our program to offer to our veterans and families the family of programs offered by the Home Base program founded in Boston in 2009. With much help from our in Southwest Florida community through fundraising events as well as our now annual Run to Home Base at JetBlue Park, and partnering with other veteran groups, we have done that.

Each year your support has enabled us to add more veterans and families to our program as well as increase our ability to fulfill that trust. In March 2019 we will offer clinical services as well in a pilot program in coordination with Massachusetts General Hospital and local Southwest Florida community partners.

But there is more to do in fulfilling our trust.

To find out more I ask you to tune into ABC Channel 7 from 7 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, November 11 for the inaugural Home Base Veterans Day Special. This 60-minute television event will focus on Southwest Florida veterans and service members who have benefitted from the support and treatment available at Home Base. These individuals have bravely volunteered to share their story in hopes of educating the community at large about the Invisible Wounds of war and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.

Home Base Southwest Florida fulfills the trust of our veterans by being here for them when their duty is complete and they return home. Through health and fitness, and now our new clinical services, we are able to deliver that support through world-class care right here in Southwest Florida.

Please tune in to learn more about Home Base, our local veterans and how you can help this Veterans Day.

For more information visit http://homebase.org/home-base-southwest-florida/ or contact Armando Hernandez, CSCS, Home Base Southwest Florida Program Director at 239-770-2414 or ahernandez17@mgh.harvard.edu

Thank you for supporting our mission!

Sincerely,

Frederick M. Franks, Jr.
General (Ret.), US Army
Honorary Director, Southwest Florida Warrior Health and Fitness Program
Home Base, A Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program