WASHINGTON, D.C. – Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-5) hosted Mark Culliton, CEO of College Bound Dorchester, Elias Perea, College Readiness Advisor at College Bound Dorchester, and Brigadier General Jack Hammond, Executive Director of Home Base, three Massachusetts leaders in the gun violence reform movement, to Washington, D.C. to speak to the House Democratic Caucus on community-based gun violence. The event, which took place on Thursday, July 11, 2019, was part of a series of monthly policy roundtables hosted by Congresswoman Clark as part of her role within Democratic leadership.
“There is so much to be learned from the experience and leadership of Mark, Elias, and Brigadier General Hammond who are in their communities every day working to combat violence,” said Congresswoman Clark. “So often, our conversation around gun violence is limited to mass shootings and not the daily violence that so many Americans face. With their help, House Democrats discussed a range of topics related to the gun violence epidemic and the bold solutions we must undertake to reduce violence and increase the safety and prosperity of Americans.”
“We are so grateful for the opportunity Congresswoman Clark gave us to share the work of Boston Uncornered and a new approach to reducing gun violence by turning to those closest to the problem for the solution, “says College Bound Dorchester Founder and CEO Mark Culliton. “We can Uncorner this country. Meeting the congressional leaders in that room last night gave me hope that that day will come soon.”
“I never thought I'd be in this position to share my story with such powerful people who wanted to hear about my path from the corner and how I lead young men and women from the corner to college,” said College Bound Dorchester College Readiness Advisor Elias Perea.
“20 veterans die by suicide each day – and 70 percent of those result from firearm injury,” said Brigadier General (ret.) Jack Hammond, Executive Director of Home Base, who was invited to speak about the role that guns play in veteran suicide. “We need to continue to educate our communities to recognize the signs and symptoms of the invisible wounds, such as post-traumatic stress, which often lead to these tragic outcomes.”
Mark Culliton is the CEO of College Bound Dorchester, an organization dedicated to empowering former gang members to pursue higher education. Elias Perea is a gun violence survivor and College Readiness Advisor for College Bound Dorchester. Retired Brigadier General Jack Hammond is the Executive Director of Home Base at Massachusetts General Hospital, a program dedicated to working with post-9/11 veterans and their families.
Within months of being in the majority, House Democrats passed two bills to strengthen the criminal background check system, reforms supported by 90% of Americans. Additionally, for the first time in decades, House Democrats invested $50 million in gun violence prevention research as part of the FY 2020 budget.
About Mark Culliton, CEO of College Bound Dorchester:
As the founder of College Bound Dorchester, Mark is the vision behind Boston Uncornered; a first in the nation model to support gang involved individuals to move from the corner to college and in doing so to transform communities. Before becoming CEO in 2007, he was Vice President for Business Development at Lighthouse Academies, Chief Operating Officer of B.E.L.L., and worked in the private sector. Mark spent four years in India as a child and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand for three and a half years following his graduation from the University of Michigan. Mark earned his MBA from Yale University. He serves on the board of Roxbury Community College. He and his wife Mary are raising two teenage boys in Dorchester. Easily obsessed, having run three marathons in crocs, you are likely to find him these days hanging upside down rock climbing.
About Elias Perea, College Readiness Advisor (CRA) at College Bound Dorchester:
Elias serves as a mentor and case-manager for youth who have experienced similar trauma and resist traditional paths to success. Growing up in Dorchester, he was first arrested for bringing weapons to school when he was 13, and soon after, he began selling drugs. He was in and out of the Department of Youth Services and prison for several years – his last sentence was in 2009 when he received five years. Upon his release in 2015, Elias ended up at College Bound as a recruiter, working his way up to a CRA. In 2017, he was shot while working as a CRA at College Bound. During this difficult period, he was close to returning to the streets but he “thought about the guys I work with every day – my son – my grandkids. And I realized, the shooter was also someone’s son, someone’s grandkid, someone who was like myself and had made a dumb mistake …I had the opportunity to give someone else forgiveness.” After taking time to heal, Elias rejoined College Bound as a CRA because as he says it best “going back to the streets would have meant giving up on myself and on my students. I had to continue doing this work to show them that you can change.” Elias lives in South Boston with his wife and five kids.
About Brigadier General (ret.) Jack Hammond, Executive Director, Home Base, a partnership of the Red Sox Foundation and MGH:
During his distinguished 30-year military career in the U.S. Army, General Hammond commanded troops from the platoon to brigade level during peace and war, becoming the first Massachusetts officer to achieve the rank of general officer in a combat theater since World War II. General Hammond had multiple combat commands in both Iraq and Afghanistan to include serving as; Commanding General for U.S. Forces in Kabul Province, and multiple Battalion Commands in Iraq.
General Hammond has served as the Executive Director of the Home Base Program since his retirement from the U.S. Army in 2012. During this time, he has presented at the White House Summit on Veterans and Military Family Mental Health, President Bush's Veteran Stand-To Summit, Advised President Obama's Commission on Military Benefits and Retirement, and served on Governor Charlie Baker's Healthcare Transition Team & Veteran Advisory Council.
Since General Hammond joined the organization in late 2012, Home Base has grown to a national program providing care and support to over 21,000 US Veterans, Services members and Families of all combat eras across the United States and in 5 countries, as well as education on the invisible wounds to over 73,000 clinicians, first responders and community members. He has been a driving force behind the innovative care for our patients with the launch of several new programs – both clinical and non-clinical – such as the two-week Intensive Clinical Program (ICP) for Veterans, a Family Survivor program, which is also a two-week intensive program that is designed specifically women who have lost their Veteran to suicide, and the Warrior Health and Fitness program.
Under General Hammond’s leadership, Home Base continues to lead the charge in developing new ways to care for our nation’s warriors. In 2019, Home Base will be launching two new programs: a weekend version of the Intensive Clinical Program (for those who would not attend the 2-week program) and a new program to treat co-occurring substance use. Home Base is also in the process of expanding our clinical services for Veterans suffering from Traumatic Brain Injuries.
General Hammond continues his service to our country through his work at Home Base and his determination in helping to heal the invisible wounds of our Veterans, Service Members and Military Families.