The Southwest Florida community was devasted by the physical destruction of Hurricane Ian. The mental health toll has been even greater for those in its direct path. As families struggle to make sense of losing their homes, cars and facing the uphill battle of rebuilding, the Home Base Florida family rallied together to respond to the needs of our community through a variety of efforts that included volunteering to help those most impacted and providing community outreach and resources to provide mental health support for those struggling to cope.
After the storm, the team sprang into action and quickly deployed a Hurricane Resources page on our website to provide our Veterans, Service Members and Military Families with a list of resources to assist with everything from transportation and food to disaster relief and healthcare.
As we reached out to our partners to assess community needs, we joined forces with organizations such as the YMCA, Veteran MWR and the Naples Vet Center to provide hands on support to Veterans and neighbors on their debris removal and clean-up efforts. To date, Veterans in our program and our staff have put in more 119 hours volunteering to help survivors. Families who received support including a Gold Star family, an Army Veteran, a chemotherapy patient and a Vietnam Veteran residing in Bonita Springs, Naples and Fort Myers who were so grateful for the manpower and show of support removing drywall, furniture, downed trees and cars. Our volunteers also assisted unloading six tons of supplies that arrived by boat to Marco Island.
As electricity, phones and community resources came back online and immediate clean-up efforts were complete, our focus has shifted to the mental health needs of our Veterans impacted by the lasting effects of Hurricane Ian.
For storm trauma survivors, the damage isn’t limited to property destruction. The anguish of losing everything can take toll on mental health. As people tend to the immediate needs of food, shelter, and clothing, mental health issues will linger. We have already seen an uptick in referrals to our outpatient clinic and expect more as time goes on and the reality and challenges of rebuilding continue.
Feelings such as anxiety, constant worrying, trouble sleeping and depression-like symptoms are common. Warning signs that someone is struggling can include loss of appetite, low energy and loss of interest in things they previously loved are all signs that someone is struggling with depression, anxiety or PTSD. Home Base Florida outpatient clinical services are available to assist Florida Veterans through our clinical partnerships with Lee Health and David Lawrence Centers. These services include convenient 100% telehealth services for those without transportation or who prefer to stay close to home. If you know a Veteran struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, connect them to no cost mental health care available at Home Base Florida. We are #FloridaStrong!