Honoring Native American Veterans on Indigenous Peoples’ Day – A Visit to Home Base From Admiral Michael Weahkee and Navajo Code Talker Peter MacDonald

On October 9th, 2023 we reflect on the contributions of Indigenous peoples in the US, and what is more of a profound contribution than dedication to and protection of our country? In Post 9/11 times, about 1 in 5 Native Americans have joined the armed forces, and we recognize and salute the service and resilience that runs deep and strong throughout our military history. This episode highlights a recent visit to Home Base from Rear Admiral Michael Weahkee, sharing discussions on the Indian Health Service, and an abridged special conversation with Marine Veteran and Navajo Code Talker Peter MacDonald.

Our heartfelt thanks to Navajo Code Talker Peter MacDonald and your family for your ongoing service, and of course the three things we all need to hold onto tightly: Knowledge, Wisdom, and Strength. Thank you to Admiral Michael Weakhee for your presentation and partnership as we optimize care for our Native veterans and their families. 

WWII Navajo Code Talker Hon. Peter MacDonald at the Home Base National Center of Excellence - YouTube

Since 2010, Mass General Brigham (MGB) has partnered with the Indian Health Service serving Navajo Nation in both New Mexico and Arizona. In 2023 faculty from across MGB will have volunteered a total of 30 weeks at Navajo IHS hospitals, led 24 remote CME talks and mentored four providers from Cherokee Nation for partnering in substance use disorder care.

Ellen Bell, Director of Community Health Outreach and Training Programs at MGB reflected in a recent interview - saying, “Inadequate infrastructure, limited specialty care and woeful underfunding contribute to well-documented and astounding health disparities in our Native American communities – all of which were severely intensified during the COVID pandemic.”

The Home Base Team has been collaborating with the medical, educational, and government leadership in Arizona on a three-phase launch of mind-body healthcare for veterans and families that includes urban and rural partnerships with the Navajo Nation community specifically. Warrior Health and Fitness programming is coming soon this year, followed by intensive clinical and outpatient programming in early 2024 – All thanks to the efforts of Dr. Louis Chow, Army Veterans Felicia Pinckney and Bill Davidson, Erin Dwyer, Air Force Veteran Marcus Denetdale, Laura Harward, Karianne Kraus, Marine Veteran Armando Hernandez, and others, along with leadership Mike Allard and Brigadier General Jack Hammond.

As Home Base moves forward with planning in Arizona and Navajo Nation, we aim to carry on the Mass General Brigham initiative that started in 2010 with colleague Ellen Bell and others to partner in healthcare, battling health disparities while always chipping away at stigma in mental health especially in these regions. For more information and to access care and or provide support to our growing programs, please connect with us at www.homebase.org.

If you are your loved one is experiencing any emotional, mental health struggles, you are not alone and please contact Home Base at (617) 724-5202, or visit www.homebase.org.

To Donate to Home Base where every dollar goes to the care of veterans and military families that is cost to them, go to: www.homebase.org/donate.

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  • The Home Base Nation Team is Steve Monaco, Army Veteran Kelly Field, Justin Scheinert, Chuck Clough, with COO Michael Allard, Brigadier General Jack Hammond, and Peter Smyth.
  • Producer and Host: Dr. Ron Hirschberg
    Assistant Producer, Editor: Chuck Clough
    Chairman, Home Base Media Lab: Peter Smyth
  • Closing Guitar Music: Lucy Little
  • Special thanks to David Schmitz and the Waves Media Team for curation of content both live and multimedia video

Home Base Nation is the official podcast of Home Base Program for Veterans and Military Families, a partnership of the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Red Sox Foundation. To learn more and connect with us at Home Base Nation: www.homebase.org/podcast

The views expressed by guests to the Home Base Nation podcast are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Views and opinions expressed by guests are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Home Base, the Red Sox Foundation or any of its officials.