All Photo Credits: Danny George
Two years ago, Brigadier General Jack Hammond, along with fellow deployed service members, took part in a shadow run in Kabul, Afghanistan. Though the course didn’t much resemble its sister track in Boston, Massachusetts, the intention was the same: to raise awareness of the ‘invisible wounds’ of war.
This year, on May 13, Brig. Gen. (ret.) Hammond, along with 2,000 runners and walkers- including 500 active duty military members- will finally have the opportunity to run the course that begins just outside the gates of historic Fenway Park and ends with runners crossing home plate inside the stadium.
Now in its fourth year, the inspiring Run-Walk to Home Base presented by New Balance raises funds for the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program.
Created in 2009, The Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program serve Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and families affected by combat or deployment-related stress and traumatic brain injury (TBI). The Home Base program focuses on ‘the invisible wounds of war,’ and provides clinical care and support service for service members, veterans and their families. It also conducts research to improve understanding and treatment of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and TBI. The dire importance of this type of program is intensified when statistics estimate that as many as one in three Iraq and Afghanistan veterans experience these injuries.
The concept for the program was developed in 2007, after the Red Sox won the World Series and team physician Larry Ronan arranged for members to visit Walter Reed Hospital while in Washington DC. Players were initially supposed to stay for a forty-five minute ‘meet and greet;’ five hours later they were still there. The Red Sox ownership had been trying to decide a new organization, a new benefit they would provide to the city; after their time at Walter Reed, they quickly decided it would involve returning military. Following a great deal of research the organization concluded that the invisible wounds of war were an area that needed attention and support. Partnering with Massachusetts General Hospital, ranked number one in the nation for their psychiatric program, the Home Base Program was created.
Currently serving as the Home Base Program’s Executive Director, Hammond understands the importance of treating these invisible wounds. By his retirement last spring, he served thirty-one years in the Army, spending a considerable amount of time in both Iraq and Afghanistan, commanding multiple Army units during the war and receiving numerous military decorations.
‘I had a good vantage point when I returned home in 2012 to have seen the cumulative effect on soldiers, Marines… families.’ In specific, General Hammond speaks of witnessing marriages falling apart when veterans returned home, marriages that were some ten, twelve and fifteen years old. ‘One of the untold stories of this war is that effect.’ He continues, ‘the unique aspect of this program is we engage the families as we do the veterans… ‘What really drew me to the program is the fact that they are taking care of the veteran and family. When one deploys, we all deploy in a family. I saw what my family went through with the deployments and the impact; there was no Home Base when we really could have used it a lot… We treat in a wrap-around fashion for the total family.’
When Hammond and his fellow deployed military members carried out that shadow run in Kabul, geographic distance wasn’t an issue. ‘Some folks from my headquarters reached back to the Red Sox, so they Fed Ex’ed us a home plate. We videotaped it and sent it back to them. The day of the run they had our shadow run being projected.’
It’s that same kind of innovative problem solving and commitment to serving others that makes the Home Base program so successful and necessary. Not only does the program work specifically with veterans, returning military members, and their families, but they also offer a community outreach program that strives to educate clinicians and community members about the psychological effects of war, how to recognize the symptoms, and how to treat/seek out treatment. The program collaborates with the Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Academy and the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD to provide live and web based seminars for myriad doctors and health care workers. And while the program does work with insurance, if there is no insurance or a gap in coverage, those receiving treatment will never receive a bill from Home Base. Since its start in 2009, the Home Base program has provided care for more than 500 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families.
The Walk Run at Fenway raises funds for these treatments, research and ongoing education so that the program may continue to operate. Each runner raises $1,000, though active duty military members are not required to raise funds. Over the past three years the run has raised seven million dollars through donations and corporate support.
Race registration opens in January, with most participants signing up between January and March so they have enough time to raise funds. Not only do runners and walkers have the opportunity to cross home plate at Fenway at the end of the race, but leaders in the military and civilian worlds also greet them. In 2012 for example, Colonel Mike LeSavage, Commanding Officer of the 25th Marine Regiment, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Red Sox Principal Owner John Henry and his wife Linda Pizzuti Henry, and Massachusetts General Hospital President Peter Slavin, MD were among the esteemed individuals cheering on participants with their support.
This May 13th, General Hammond will cross the finish line with his entire family, thousands of miles away from that first run in Afghanistan. Alongside him there will be retired military, teenagers, mothers, babies being pushed in strollers and active duty military, some in their physical training uniforms. Their intention will be to join together to support the ‘invisible’ wounds of war, but their energy and dedication will be anything but.
For more information on the run, click here:
For more information on The Home Base Program, click here:
(UPDATED PRESS RELEASE ON NEXT PAGE)
BOSTON RUNS AGAIN;
THOUSANDS HELP VETERANS AND MILITARY FAMILIES HEAL FROM “INVISIBLE WOUNDS” OF WAR
IN 4TH ANNUAL RUN-WALK TO HOME BASE PRESENTED BY NEW BALANCE AT FENWAY PARK
WHAT: The Run-Walk to Home Base presented by New Balance benefits the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program. Home Base helps Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families recover from post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury through clinical care, community education and research.
This is the first fund-raising run in Boston since the Boston Marathon tragedy. It calls attention to the one-in-three veterans who return from war with post traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury, and raises awareness of the dangers and challenges military members face every day on the battlefield and after coming home. Some 2,000 runners and walkers, including hundreds of actively serving military and first responders, and military family members will participate in this 9K run and 3 mile walk.
Red Sox, Mass General Hospital leadership, military leaders and elected officials will participate in opening ceremonies and recognize members of MA National Guard who were first responders at the Boston Marathon bombing.
Run-Walk to Home Base starts and ends at Fenway Park, with a timed finish at the iconic Green Monster and “photo finish” crossing home plate.
General John F. Kelly, Commander, U.S. Southern Command; US Representative Joseph Kennedy; Major General Scott Rice, MA National Guard; Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner; Mass General Hospital President Peter Slavin, MD; New Balance President/CEO Rob DeMartini
WHERE: Media enter Fenway Park at Gate B beginning at 5:30 AM (Corner of Van Ness and Ipswich Streets). Media must have Photo ID from their respective outlets.
- 6:00AM – Runners/walkers/Home Base clinicians available for interviews
- 7:15AM – Opening ceremony
- 8: 00AM – Run-Walk to Home Base begins
- 8:30-9:45AM – Runners/Walkers enter Fenway for finish at Green Monster and crossing home plate
- 10:00AM – Run-Walk to Home Base ends and Park activities continue
- 1:00PM – Park closes
Throughout the morning:
Free Family activities, including Military Appreciation Area presented by BAE
Systems, where fans make care packages for service members; Family Fun Zone
presented by Our Family for Families First/Corvias Group; Fan Experience Zone
presented by John Hancock; photos with Red Sox Legends, 2004 and 2007 World
Series trophies, Wally the Green Monster; self-guided tours; and veteran service exhibits.
Concession stands open.
ROAD CLOSURES: Plan for delays. The following roads will be closed to vehicular traffic on Race Day (times subject to change):
- From Sunday at 4:00AM to 10:00AM: Yawkey Way from Brookline Ave. to Van Ness St. Closed to all traffic and no parking.
- From 7:30 AM though 10:00 AM: Rolling Road Closures Include: Van Ness (from Yawkey to Ipswich), Ipswich (from Van Ness to Boylston), Boylston Westbound (from Ipswich to Mass Ave), Mass Ave from Boylston to Memorial Drive and Memorial Drive (from Longfellow Bridge to Vassar Street) and Lansdowne (from Brookline to Ipswich)
PARKING: Police will enforce special event parking restrictions on streets around the ballpark and some streets will be closed before as well as during the race. Paid parking available at select lots in the area – visit www.redsox.com for information on nearby commercial garages.