JULY 19TH 2014
About the Home Base Program
The Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program serves New England by identifying, motivating, and clinically treating wounded service members and veterans with combat stress and traumatic brain injury and their families. The Home Base Program serves the nation as a model for private-public collaborations as an educational resource about the invisible wounds of war that now effect an estimated 30 percent of those who served or are serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. We are also working on the development of new treatments for post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
In New England, an estimated 50,000 veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are affected by TBI and/or combat stress. These invisible wounds of war are complex, individualized and extraordinarily challenging for all those affected. Families of veterans affected by combat stress and/or traumatic brain injury often need support as they seek ways to better understand and support their loved veteran. Many veterans struggle with the stigma associated with these injuries and may be reluctant to seek care.
Many veterans struggle with the stigma associated with these injuries and may be reluctant to seek care. While anxiety and distress may not be as obvious as the physical wounds of war, the scars are just as painful and deep.
Through a range of activities and events, the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program informs and educates the community about combat stress and/or traumatic brain injury as we seek to mitigate the stigma and encourage veterans and their families to get the support and care they deserve.
Since the number of professionals specifically trained to diagnose and treat these injuries is inadequate to handle the growing demand, the Home Base Program also offers opportunities for health care professionals from across New England and beyond to increase their understanding of how to help veterans.
More information about the Home Base Program is available at:
For veterans wishing to schedule a consultation, please call 617-724-5202
About the Home Base Veterans and Families
The following examples are based on the stories of veterans and families helped by:
the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program
“Tom” joined the military right after high school and served for a total of six years in the U.S. Army. His infantry unit was deployed for more than a year to an area south of Bagdad, which saw heavy fighting. When Tom returned home, he enrolled at a Massachusetts community college on the GI Bill. But his transition back to civilian life from combat experience in Iraq was difficult. He was uncomfortable in crowds, hyper-vigilant, had trouble driving a car, and difficulty concentrating on his school work. With advice from staff in the student veteran center at his college and encouragement from his girlfriend, Tom sought help for his “invisible wounds” at the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program.
Thanks to Home Base, Tom says he has been able to understand, overcome and manage his combat stress, strengthen his personal relationships, and regain his confidence and academic success as a student veteran. While he continues to work on his degree, Tom volunteers to help other Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans coordinate their benefits and adjustment to student life.
“Mr. and Mrs. C.” Their son, a young Marine, who served in Afghanistan, was involved in a number of fire fights, as well as rescue and recovery operations of wounded and dead soldiers. He also experienced a traumatic brain injury following several IED blasts. When their son got home, he started having symptoms of post traumatic stress (PTSD). He was feeling anxious in crowds, having trouble sleeping, experiencing flashbacks, outbursts of anger, and abusing alcohol. His traumatic brain injury made it difficult to concentrate and focus on his work. The young Marine was frightened and confused, and he felt isolated from his family and friends. However, like many young service members, he kept his struggles hidden. Only his parents knew how troubled he was.
Mr. C. contacted Home Base for help. As a result of the interventions, the family says their son is recovering from his “invisible wounds” and learning to manage his symptoms. With support and instruction from the Home Base Family Team, Mr. and Mrs. C. have learned how to make their home and social environment support their son’s recovery, and how to effectively communicate with their son when he is having symptoms of PTSD.
“Mary N.” When her older brother was deployed for the second time to Afghanistan, Mary found that her worry and anxiety about her brother’s safety were becoming overwhelming at times. She wasn’t sure what to say when friends made off-hand remarks about why people would chose to serve in the military and the war. She also needed help coping with the changes her brother’s deployment created in her family dynamic; sometimes she found herself supporting her parents, her younger siblings, and her deployed brother. Home Base helped Mary manage her anxiety, and she says the techniques she learned help to improve her communication with her friends and family. Siblings are often forgotten when we think about families being under great stress as a result of military deployments. Clinicians often focus on spouses and children -- but not brothers and sisters of young soldiers. Home Base offers individual and group counseling to all family members throughout the deployment cycle.
“The M family” Mr. “M.” is an Army combat veteran, who was deployed twice to Iraq. Early in his second deployment, the family’s elementary school-aged son began to have some anxiety about his dad being in harm’s way. He was having trouble sleeping and separating from his mom to go to school, even though he’d never had problems with either before the second deployment. To the family’s surprise, the little boy’s anxiety continued even after his dad came home. The family came to the Home Base Program for help. Home Base clinicians met with the son, his younger brother, and their parents, and with education and guidance the entire family has developed a way to talk about their feelings in response to the dad’s deployment, and as a result, they say they have learned how to help make the children feel safe and less anxious.