Home Base Florida and David Lawrence Centers Announce New Mental Health Services for Veterans and Families Impacted by the Invisible Wounds of War
State Senator Kathleen Passidomo, Home Base Florida Honorary Director, 4-Star General Fred Franks (USA-Ret.), and David Lawrence Centers CEO Scott Burgess on hand for announcement
(Naples, FL – April 11, 2022) – There are more than 1.5 million Veterans in Florida representing the third largest Veteran population in the United States. It is estimated that 1 in 3 Veterans returns home with an invisible wound. With more than 108,000 Veterans, their families, as well active-duty service men and women residing in Southwest Florida, many are lacking access to needed behavioral health services.
To improve access to care in Collier County, Home Base Florida and David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC), the largest non-profit behavioral health treatment center in Collier County, announced a clinical partnership to offer mental health and substance use services for Veterans and military families who call Southwest Florida home – at no cost. State Senator Kathleen Passidomo, Home Base Honorary Director, 4-Star General Fred Franks (USA-Ret.), DLC CEO Scott Burgess and many other government officials and community partners were on hand for the announcement.
“I was blown away by the Home Base concept, program, and their future plans,” said Senator Kathleen Passidomo. “When they told me they were going to do a partnership with David Lawrence Centers, I said, ‘Where do I sign up?’ Florida is the most Veteran friendly state in the country, and we want to keep it that way. We want to make sure that our Veterans come back to Florida and can be successful and thrive. We want to help their families. That’s the goal. I look forward to hearing the success of the Home Base program in Collier County.”
Staffed by DLC’s clinical team, Veterans can receive evidence-based clinical care for a variety of mental and emotional health needs, including post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, anger, grief and loss, and transitional challenges. Behavioral health services will be provided at no cost to Veterans, service members, and their families, regardless of ability to pay, experience level, or discharge status. The Home Base outpatient clinical services at DLC also offer a multidisciplinary approach to care and complements Home Base Florida’s Warrior Health & Fitness Program, which has served as a platform for hundreds of local Veterans to come together, reconnect with other members of the military community, and embark on a path towards long-term wellness.
“Eight years ago, Home Base Florida was created to help fill an important need for our Veterans transitioning from military service, and we are proud to expand our mission once again,” said Home Base Florida’s Program Director and U.S. Marine Veteran Armando Hernandez. “This partnership with DLC will ensure Veterans, impacted by the invisible wounds of war, receive access to timely and quality medical care.”
DLC clinicians received extensive clinical training in evidence-based therapies for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by Home Base’s clinical experts from Massachusetts General Hospital, which is one of the leading psychiatry departments in the nation. DLC will participate in weekly phone consultations to ensure the best care is delivered to Southwest Florida Veterans, and will work in tandem with Home Base staff to best serve each patient, ensuring that no Veteran—and his or her family—falls through the cracks.
Improving access to services for Veterans, as well as increasing evidence-based practices, is outlined in Collier County’s new five-year strategic plan for mental health and addiction services. The Board of County Commissioners approved plan serves as a road map for community partners, donors, and government leaders as they mobilize responses to address associated current and future challenges.
DLC recently launched a new Veterans Services Program designed to build meaningful partnerships with Veterans and their families to help them function better at home, in the community, on the job, in educational settings, and throughout life. Through the program, a Peer Veteran Case Manager helps Veterans access evidence-informed, trauma-specific treatments such as the new cognitive processing therapy (CPT).
CPT will complement many of the advanced, holistic, and proven therapies DLC has available for local Veterans, including Trauma Incident Reduction (TIR), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Veteran’s Treatment Court, mindfulness, and much more – all now accessible at no cost to Veterans through this new collaboration with Home Base Florida.
“It is an honor to partner with Home Base Florida to help expand these life-saving services in Collier County for our heroes who served our country so valiantly,” said DLC President and CEO Scott Burgess. “This additional support will help many struggling Veterans in our community to not only survive, but thrive, and we couldn’t be more excited to be a catalyst in that process.”
Emphasizing the need for local mental health treatment access, retired US Army Veteran Matthew Loebs spoke about his personal journey in seeking care, noting that like many other Veterans impacted by post-traumatic stress, it was difficult to overcome the stigma to seek help and extremely difficult to find reliable, well-trained professionals to provide treatment.
“The Home Base intensive clinical program was the ignition source to giving me my life back,” said Loebs. “I realized there that all of us had different stories, but the outcomes were the same. We were all dealing with anxiety and depression that led to relationship issues and poor coping mechanisms such as alcohol or drug use and isolation. Home Base provided an environment where we could be vulnerable to let it all out, and then provided us with the tools to cope and heal in a healthy way. PTSD never goes away, but Home Base taught me how to live a fulfilled life with my trauma and gave me the skills to restore the most important part of my life – my family.”
Every day, Veterans are taking their own lives at a troubling rate, and it’s one that continues to climb. Suicides among post-9/11 Veterans are four times as high as combat deaths. Each year, more than 6,000 U.S. Veterans take their own lives, including more than 500 in Florida.
Tragically, since 2010, more than 65,000 Veterans nationally have died by suicide – more than the total number of deaths from combat during the Vietnam War and the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. “Home Base and DLC are partnering to help stem the tide of Veteran suicide and to provide healing and hope to those that have sacrificed so much for our country,” said Home Base Chief Operating Officer Michael Allard.
“It takes tremendous courage for a Veteran to step forward and ask for help – not all trauma of war or service is physical or apparent, and many of our returning service members need care and support,” said Home Base Florida Honorary Director, four-star General (USA ret) Fred Franks, Vietnam and Desert Storm Veteran, who began Home Base SWFL in early 2014 with the Warrior Health & Fitness Program with a vision of being able to offer the full family of Home Base programs. “The establishment of these clinical services is the fulfillment of a trust. The trust between our Nation, our communities and our Veterans—that when their mission and duties are complete, we will be there for them at home.”
The Home Base Florida Outpatient Services at DLC are now available for appointments. Please contact Home Base at 239-338-8389, or visit www.HomeBase.org/florida
About Home Base Florida
Home Base is one of the first and largest non-profits in the country dedicated to healing the invisible wounds of war through clinical care, wellness, training and research – all at no cost to our Veterans and Families. Concerned by the rising suicides and health challenges our Florida Veterans were facing when they returned home, Home Base opened Home Base Florida in 2014. Partnering with Florida Gulf Coast University, Lee Health, Tampa General Hospital and now David Lawrence Centers, Home Base Florida provides world-class clinical care, wellness-based programs and peer support for Veterans, Service Members, and their Families. All care and support are provided at no cost, regardless of ability to pay, experience level or discharge status. To learn more about Home Base Florida or to connect to care, visit www.homebase.org/florida.
About David Lawrence Centers
Southwest Florida nonprofit David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC) is a national leader providing compassionate, advanced, and exceptional mental health, substance use, and integrated healthcare solutions, available for children, adolescents and adults. DLC’s innovative treatment includes inpatient, outpatient, residential, and community-based services – a comprehensive system of care funded by community and government support. Each year, DLC serves more than 9,000 people through over 300,000 treatment sessions. To learn more, please call 239-455-8500 or visit www.DLCenters.org.