General Jack Hammond gets vets to Home Base

Brigadier General Jack Hammond

Reading’s Brigadier General Jack Hammond, now retired, continues his military dedication by directing Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program dedicated to healing the invisible wounds for post-9/11 Veterans, Service Members and their families through world-class clinical care, wellness, education and research.

Tom Warner, Red Sox Chairman, came up with the idea for the Red Sox to partner with MGH to create Home Base 10 years ago based upon a visit with wounded warriors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Since 2009, Home Base has treated more than 20,000 veterans and family members through its clinical and wellness-based programs - all at no cost.

According to their website (homebase.org), Home Base operates the nation’s first private National Center of Excellence, Home Base operates the largest private-sector clinic devoted to healing invisible wounds which are the mental health and brain injuries sustained by service members and their families. In 2016, Home Base launched a game-changing 2-week intensive clinical program that compresses more than a year of therapy into 14 days. Through this innovative new program Home Base has treated Veterans from across the United States – covering all costs to include airfare, lodging, meals, and treatment.

A similar program was developed to treat surviving spouses of service members who died by suicide. The staggering truth is that we lose 20 veterans a day to suicide along with an active duty serviceman or woman daily. By the way, Post-traumatic stress disorder is the leading cause of veterans’ suicides presenting a great challenge. The good news is that if we can get a veteran into care at Home Base we can save their life.

To fund this care, Home Base has partnered with the Red Sox for the “Run to Home Base” each year at Fenway Park. The race begins outside the park and finishes crossing homelessness plate. Several years ago Hammond’s childhood friend Max McMillan formed a “Run” team called Team GJH, after his friend Jack. The cornerstone for the team began with a group team mates from Reading Pop Werner and High School. Team GJH now has more than 60 members and they have raised over $100,000 in the past 3 years. Max’s goal is to raise $50,000 this year and is actively seeking local sponsors and enlisting the help of our Chamber of Commerce.

Jack, a 1979 graduate of Reading Memorial High School, is the first Massachusetts Officer to attain the rank a General since WWII. Hammond chose a military career as he grew-up in a military family with 4 relatives serving in WWII, and 1 each in Korea and Vietnam. He also spent a summer at Fort Sill in Oklahoma and couldn’t resist the military service’s offer to fund his college tuition. He enlisted after his sophomore year at the University of Massachusetts, was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the summer of 1983 before entering his senior year, and began his full-time career began after college graduation in 1984.

In his first years as a full-time officer, Jack served in many roles in the Army’s Military Police units before Iraq’s Saddam Hussein decided to invade neighboring Kuwait in 1990 and Operation Desert Storm was initiated. There were 3 false starts to Jack’s unit going to Iraq before the 6-day war concluded with Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait.

All that changed with 9-11. Jack deployed to Afghanistan in 2002, and then deployed for the invasion of Iraqi in 2003, where Jack commanded 2 separate battalions 100 miles apart in Iraq…one in the Sunni Tringle (stability & security operations) and the other in Fallujah (counter-insurgent operations). What was initially believed to be a 6-month assignment changed to 18 months between the 2 countries before he returned home.

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