One year ago, Home Base and Tampa General Hospital formed a partnership to expand the Warrior Health and Fitness program outside of Southwest Florida and Boston to serve Veterans in the Tampa Bay area. The free health and fitness program designed specifically for Veterans is led by trained fitness specialists and dietitians. The program improves health and well-being through supervised exercise prescriptions, nutritional education and living a healthy lifestyle, along with ways to incorporate stress management that emphasize the health benefits of physical activity.
Through a generous $250,000 gift from the Valspar Championship and Copperhead Charities, the program was able to connect Tampa Bay area Veterans with resources to support healthy habits and ways to build resiliency against post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety. The donation helped to connect and serve local heroes through the Home Base Warrior Health and Fitness program at Tampa General. In the first year, the program has served 92 Veterans with several advancing to the intensive clinical program.
“The generous support from the Valspar Championship and Copperhead Charities was instrumental in establishing the third Home Base Warrior Health and Fitness program in the country,” said Armando Hernandez, Home Base Florida Senior Director and U.S. Marine Veteran. “We have seen significant changes in the physical and mental wellness of our Warrior Health and Fitness participants including improved physical health and serving as a portal to more complex care of injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.”
US Air Force Veteran Dan McGuire, who served our country for 29 years, received help and support to manage his physical and mental wellness through the Tampa program. After 12 deployments including Dessert Storm, Dan faced many physical ailments including a mild traumatic brain injury that affects his balance as well as back and shoulder injuries. After being medically retired and transitioning to civilian life, his real battle began.
“I struggled with PTSD, survivors’ guilt and severe depression that caused me to isolate and have unhealthy habits that included gaining weight,” said Dan. “I felt like a failure and that I no longer had a purpose anymore. It felt like life went on for everyone else around me, but not for me.”
After being introduced to Home Base at an outreach tent at the Valspar Championship PGA golf tournament in Tampa, Dan signed up on the spot for the Warrior Health and Fitness program. He was motivated to start by the idea of losing the 35 pounds he had gained, but for him the benefits far outweighed the physical rewards.
“I had an incredibly positive experience and feel amazing now,” said Dan. “I had people who cared about me and my success in a judgement free environment. I found I wasn’t isolating or frustrated. I couldn’t wait to go to the gym to be around other Veterans and the Home Base team. I was searching for camaraderie and didn’t even know it.”
Dan is set to begin another three months in the program and can’t wait to start. He added, “I am just scratching the surface of what Home Base Florida offers and look forward to learning more about how they can help me continue my journey to mental and physical wellness.”
Home Base Florida is grateful for the support of our donors who have an immediate and direct impact on the lives of Florida Veterans of all eras, Service Members, Military Families and Families of the Fallen through our expanding programs.
Learn more about you can support Florida Veterans at homebase.org/florida.