Home Base Florida Brings Community Together to Heal the Invisible Wounds of Veterans and Military Families Beyond Veterans Day
Veterans Day honors those who chose to defend and protect our great nation. For most military servicemen and women, feelings of pride and accomplishment are as clear, strong and tangible as the fabric of their uniforms and the values they represent. For many, however, recurrent memories of the trauma of war and terrorism negatively impact the daily life of the Veteran. Those experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress, relive their memories during troubling nightmares or through responses to triggers. Others suffer from depression, anxiety and traumatic brain injury. Some cope with these symptoms through substance use and isolation. All of this negatively impacts the entire family of the Veteran when they return home.
“Our military servicemen and women defend our country to give all of us the ability to live in a nation that honors our individual and group rights,” states Marine Corps Veteran and Home Base Florida Senior Director Armando R. Hernandez. “While we celebrate Veterans Day, we should remember that there is a price for that freedom.”
Those in the military solemnly swore to support and protect our country against all enemies and at all costs. Thanking our Veterans for their service on Veterans Day has become a civilian’s opportunity to offer respect and appreciation for our military – but more needs to be done beyond this special day to help them heal from the invisible wounds of war.
Florida has the third largest Veteran population in the United States with more than 1.5 million Veterans. Life-changing stress from events on the battlefield can leave lasting personal changes necessitating specific and cutting-edge therapies. Over 108,000 Veterans reside in Southwest Florida and many lack access to the high-quality, specialized clinical care they need to recover.
Home Base Florida Behavioral Health and Wellness Care
The call for help was answered by Home Base, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to providing comprehensive care and support to Veterans and their families. It was co-founded in Boston in 2009 by the Boston Red Sox and Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2014, Home Base expanded in Florida to offer Southwest Florida Veterans and their families the tools needed to take control of their physical health, rebuild the camaraderie lost in the transition to civilian life, while providing a portal to the more complex care available at Home Base in Boston.
Through their flagship Warrior Health and Fitness program, Veterans and their family members receive a comprehensive, free 90-day experience. Through one-on-one sessions with certified personal trainers and dietitians, the program focuses on fostering physical fitness, improving overall well-being, and establishing healthy lifestyle habits.
Despite the success of its programs, Veterans are taking their own lives at a troubling rate. Since 2010, more than 65,000 Veterans have died by suicide. 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. With suicide rates among Veterans climbing, Home Base leadership knew more needed to be done to expand clinical care to Florida.
Retired USA Army General Fred Franks and Home Base Florida Honorary Director said, “As Home Base Florida grew our fundraising capabilities, we were able to launch outpatient behavioral healthcare in Lee County in 2019 and in Collier County in 2022 giving Veterans access to clinical care right here at home. This fulfills the trust that we will be there for them when they return home.”
State Funding Expands Care and Launches Traumatic Brain Injury Services
Now, through a $1.5 million investment by the Florida legislature awarded in 2023, Home Base Florida will continue to expand its programs locally and serve more Veterans from across the state. The additional funding will support outpatient clinical services, Warrior Health and Fitness, education/training, and launch traumatic brain injury services all at no cost to Veterans regardless of the era of service or discharge status. This inclusive approach ensures that those who served, and their loved ones have equal opportunity to receive the care they deserve, fostering healing and well-being within the Veteran community.
Home Base Florida remains committed to its mission of healing the invisible wounds of war and supporting Veterans and their families throughout their journey to recovery. Through comprehensive and innovative programs, Home Base Florida aims to improve the lives of those affected by military service-related trauma and promote overall mental health and well-being. Today and into the future, Home Base remains at the forefront of discovering new treatments to ensure a brighter future for 21st century warriors and their families.
With ongoing community support, Home Base Florida will continue to make a lasting difference in the lives of those who have served.