The Road to Hope at Home Base, a U.S. Army Veteran's Story

Dear Friend,

There’s no better way to say “thank you for your service” to our Veterans and their Families than by ensuring they have the care and support that they need and deserve.

Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Program, operates the first and largest private sector clinic in America solely focused on healing the invisible wounds, such as post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, anxiety, and depression. Since 2009, clinicians at MGH and Spaulding Rehabilitation Center have served more than 15,000 Veterans and Family Members – at no cost to them. 

As 2018 comes to a close, you have an incredible opportunity to support Home Base and guarantee that we will continue our work to heal these invisible wounds, and in many cases, save the lives of those who have sacrificed greatly on our behalf.

One of those Veterans we helped this year is U.S. Army Veteran Brian Martel from Nashua, New Hampshire.

As a child, Brian spent hours playing “Army” with his friends. From a young age, he was certain he would one day serve his country, and at seventeen he signed up through the Army’s Delayed Entry Program. After completing basic training in between his junior and senior year of high school, a nineteen-year-old Brian Martel received a phone call that would forever change his life: “Pack your bags. You’re going to Iraq.”

As a Transportation Specialist, Brian’s time in Iraq was intense from the start. He recalls the pervading stench of burning trash, the uncertainty of each day and never knowing what lay on the road ahead of him. Improvised Explosive Devises (IEDs) were a constant threat, and the supply trucks Brian drove were often considered soft targets for insurgents to attack. Several months into his first deployment, Brian’s convoy struck an IED. He remembers the explosion and feeling like time slowed down. After, there was a ringing in his ears that has stayed with him to this day. His hearing was checked, his cuts were cleaned, and he was released back to regular duty. Brian and the rest of the convoy kept driving.

“That’s pretty much how it goes,” he said. You respond to what happens at the time and just move on.”

Brian slept for three days straight after returning from that first deployment, safe – for the first time in months – from the IEDs and insurgents that permeated his time in Iraq. Despite being diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and PTSD after a second deployment to Iraq in 2009, he stayed in the fight, unflinching in his desire to serve and support his fellow soldiers. But after that second deployment, followed by a third to Afghanistan in 2013, he found it increasingly difficult to return to the home he had left behind.

“I came home, and it felt like I wasn’t even home,” he explained. “Everything has moved forward, but you kind of come home expecting everything to be the same as when you left.” For Brian, this meant returning home to a three-and-a-half-year-old he barely knew, and a newborn son he had never met before.

Brian was home – for good, this time – by 2014, but his multiple, back-to-back deployments had taken a considerable toll. He suffered from sleep deprivation, nightmares, cold sweats, and headaches. The hypervigilance that he had relied upon for survival in Iraq and Afghanistan was wearing him ragged back in New Hampshire. He struggled in silence, withdrawing from his family and riddled with anxiety.

Home Base

Brian learned of Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program, through a counselor he met with after returning from his deployment. Though he was initially apprehensive about putting in the time to seek treatment in Boston, he eventually found his way in to Home Base’s two-week Intensive Clinical Program (ICP). 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 like Brian to be put on a path to lifelong healing.

Despite not knowing any of the other Veterans in his cohort, Brian recalls how the group immediately bonded over their shared experiences with PTSD. He immersed himself in both the evidence-based treatments and complementary alternative medicine and came home two weeks later with strategies for coping with his symptoms of PTSD.

Today, Brian finally feels he has been able to come home. Though life will always hold uncertainties, he feels he is now better equipped to navigate life after the military thanks to the set of tools he learned at Home Base.

“Given the right tools, it is possible to improve,” he said.

Thanks to all who support Home Base

With your support, Home Base can continue to provide care to these brave men and women, like U.S. Army Veteran Brian Martel, and further change the landscape of mental health care for the entire Military family.

On behalf of our esteemed partners at the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital, thank you for your continued support. And from everyone here at Home Base, we wish you a safe, healthy, prosperous holiday season.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Jack Hammond
Brigadier General (Ret.), US Army
Executive Director, Home Base
A Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program

 

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