Home Base Southwest Florida Clinic Celebrates First Year

In November of 2019, Home Base Southwest Florida (SWFL) formally announced its expansion and clinical partnership with Lee Health, the largest healthcare system in Southwest Florida, to offer mental health services for Veterans and Military Families who call the five-county region home—at no cost. Although COVID-19 hit shortly after the start of the new partnership, the pandemic did not stop the Home Base SWFL clinical services, and more than 72 Veterans received care and support since the launch.

The clinical program at Lee Health offers a multidisciplinary approach to care and complements Home Base SWFL’s Warrior Health & Fitness Program, which has served as a platform for more than 250 local Veterans to come together, reconnect with other members of the Military community and embark on a path towards long-term wellness. Through the Warrior Health & Fitness Program, physical health goals like losing weight, gaining muscle, eating healthier, and managing pre-existing injuries and health issues are common, but the program also includes mental health and wellness goals.

Previously, those seeking clinical care could access mental health services through Home Base’s two-week Intensive Clinical Program headquartered in Boston, MA.  Thanks to the clinical partnership with Lee Health, accessing world-class outpatient mental health services has become easier for local Veterans and their Families.

“Although COVID-19 presented new challenges for our team, we were able to continue seeing Veterans and their Families through telehealth while in lockdown and have made it safe to still attend sessions in person once lockdown ended,” explained Home Base SWFL Program Director Armando Hernandez.

For Home Base SWFL Honorary Director, four-star General (USA ret.) Fred Franks, helping “the next greatest generation” of Veterans readjust to life back at home, is a matter of fulfilling an implied trust.

“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 SWFL Honorary Director, four-star General (USA ret.) Fred Franks. “The establishment of these clinical services is the fulfillment of a 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.”

Now that the clinical partnership has been operational for a year, the Home Base SWFL team has plans to expand.

“Within the first few months of the new year, we will train up to 15 local clinicians and oversee the delivery of cognitive process therapy to local Veterans and Military Families,” said Armando Hernandez.

This clinical training will be funded, in part by the Community Foundation of Collier County. Collier and Lee County clinicians who complete the training will become a certified Mass General Hospital Development Clinician and join an official national register of providers. These clinicians will be equipped with the highly specialized tools needed to treat trauma victims with what is considered the gold standard for trauma therapies – skills that are lacking and difficult to access in SWFL Florida.

To learn more about clinical services available to Veterans, Service Members and Military Families at Home Base SWFL’s Outpatient Clinic at Lee Health, please contact Home Base SWFL’s Operation & Special Projects Manager Monique Hashimoto at homebaseswfl@partners.org, (239) 338-8389, or visit www.homebase.org/SWFL.