A Special Giving Tuesday Message from Brigadier General (ret.) Jack Hammond
Dear Friends of Home Base,
Kathy Colley was prepared for the worst when her sons Alan and Stephen deployed to Iraq within a week of each other in 2005. But for all the sleepless nights she spent during the year her boys were in combat, nothing could have prepared her for the tragedies that would strike upon their return home.
In May 2007, six months after his return from Iraq, Stephen died by suicide. And a decade later in 2017—with the Colley family still grappling with Stephen’s death—Alan took his own life.
When Kathy speaks about her sons, it is with pride. She describes Alan, her eldest, as a nurturer: a protective, smart, natural leader who once asked his parents to mail hundreds of copies of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime to Iraq at Christmastime so he could provide his soldiers with a respite from war. She remembers Stephen as fun-loving and adventurous—the family clown who would do anything to make them laugh.
As the rates of suicides among Service Members and Veterans have risen, so too has the number of survivors impacted by the loss. In 2017, Home Base collaborated with Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) to establish a first-in-the nation (and only) two-week intensive clinical program specifically for the families of our fallen like Kathy. These survivors of traumatic loss require a clinical program that combines evidence-based treatment for post-traumatic stress (PTS) and complicated grief. Home Base has demonstrated the ability to deliver evidence-based treatment for those at-risk family members and set the conditions for them to reclaim their lives.
Kathy became interested in Home Base after her daughter-in-law, Marcela—Alan’s widow—graduated from the two-week program in January 2020. “She came home smiling,” Kathy recalls. “She was hopeful—and before Home Base she was only pretending to be.”
Inspired by Marcela’s transformation, Kathy completed Home Base’s two-week program this September—days before the third anniversary of Alan’s death. Kathy, a military spouse and devoted mother of six, credits Home Base with changing her life and giving her hope. “Before Home Base, there was guilt-driven dialogue in my mind,” she explained. “I left the program feeling lighter. Instead of isolating and blaming myself for Alan and Stephen’s deaths, I can celebrate their lives and the love and happiness we shared.”
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is profound and continues to grow. Here at Home Base, we sustained a 20% reduction in funding for some of our crucial and underfunded programs to include our Traumatic Brain Injury programs and the Families of the Fallen program Kathy just completed.
This Giving Tuesday, we hope you will help us reach our $25,000 goal to support these programs by making a year-end gift of any size to ensure we can continue our work to stem the tide of Veteran suicide and heal the families left behind in the wake of tragedy. We thank you for your continued support as we continue to provide healing and hope at Home Base for decades to come.
Brigadier General (Ret) Jack Hammond
Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program