Anyone in the month of November who sees a man in a police uniform with a bushy beard, a handlebar mustache or any type of facial hair, don’t be alarmed. He’s not protesting the department’s anti-facial hair policy and he didn’t get laid off but forget to return his uniform.
For the privilege of growing out their facial hair, officers from Reading, North Reading, Woburn, Winchester, Tewksbury, Wilmington and many police departments around the state and New England (even Naples Police Department in Florida) are paying up and participating in the Home Base No Shave campaign in support of Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital program.
Traditionally, police departments have a grooming policy where officers must remain clean-shaven. However, for the entire month of November, police officers have pledged $100 to forego the traditional grooming policy and grow beards, mustaches and goatees – all in support of Home Base and their mission to provide no-cost clinical care to veterans and military families impacted by the invisible wounds — such as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.
As of Tuesday, Nov. 12, the Woburn Police Department leads all departments in fundraising with well over $5,000. In fact, Woburn has blown past its goal (the website lists $500, but that’s most likely a typo) and currently stands at $5,475.
While other, local departments haven’t raised as much as Woburn, each department is contributing something (however, as of Tuesday, the website for Home Base didn’t list any contributions from Winchester yet). Wilmington has raised $2,425, Tewksbury has raised $750, Reading has raised $3,325, and North Reading has raised $2,200.
For Tewksbury, the department has been active for the past three years in fundraising for Home Base.
“I coordinated Tewksbury PD's first No-Shave November effort in 2016 and I have been organizing it each year since,” said Sergeant Michael Newcomb.
“Our fundraising each year has been for Home Base, a collaboration between the Red Sox Foundation and Mass General Hospital that supports veterans. (This campaign is known as "Home Base No Shave" because No Shave November is trademarked by one specific charity.) It started in 2015 with the MBTA Transit Police; we were one of 21 agencies involved in 2016. Last year's campaign involved 117 departments and raised over $273,000.
“Home Base helps military veterans and families impacted by invisible wounds such as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. It’s so important for our department to support this because many of our officers are veterans, and programs like this are vital to their own health and wellness. Supporting Home Base makes sense because it has the potential to directly impact our own officers.”
The movement is spearheaded by MBTA Transit Police and Boston Gang Unit Detective Kurt Power, a U.S. Army Veteran and Purple Heart recipient who sought care for his own invisible wounds at Home Base.
“The only wish I have is that we give the gift of hope, hope to all the veterans that don’t believe reintegration is possible. Hope to the approximately 20 veterans a day that may give up tomorrow,” Power said. “If I can convince just one person who needs help to listen to me and put their trust in the treatment at Home Base, this will all be worth it.”
This month, first responders at Reading, North Reading, Woburn, Winchester, Tewksbury, and Wilmington Police Departments will go beyond the badge to not only help raise money for a program that is changing the lives of veterans and their families, but to evoke conversation, raise awareness and break the stigma associated with getting care.
“I think the biggest part about this campaign is the demonstration of support by communities from across New England and the country,” said Home Base Executive Director Brigadier General (USA ret.) Jack Hammond. “It goes well beyond ‘thank you for your service’ – it’s something tangible people are doing to show them that they care. At Home Base, we offer some of the best care in the United States, so with all of these departments reaching out into these communities, they are bound to know someone who needs help and connect them to us. Every time they do that, they are saving a life.”
One Reading donor, John McKenna, called General Hammond a personal friend.
“I have known him since I was nine-years old. I have seen him work toward his goals from day one. He has always been extremely resourceful as he had to be coming from a large family of six siblings and a mother and father that were a pure example of teamwork and togetherness.
“The general exceeds all expectations that could have been imagined from his early years. He is a self-sacrificing person with his family first, as his grounding motto. He truly sees the needs of persons that have placed their lives in harms way and depended on other soldiers to cover them as they worked towards a mutual goal of freedom for others.
“Those soldiers that come home scarred and injured, inside and out, need support from all of society. because of their sacrifices we are able to walk and talk in a world of freedom. General Jack continues to lead the charge for gathering provisions for their healing and care, to recover and return to a peaceful world.”
To date, the Home Base No Shave campaign, benefitting Home Base, has raised more than $500,000 and engaged more than 118 police departments across the country. This year, the organization has raised $145,000, which is almost halfway to their goal of $350,000. Reading, North Reading, Woburn, Winchester, Tewksbury, and Wilmington Police Departments have a goal to make an impact and are asking community members, business owners and family members to join the cause and donate to their page.
To support Tewksbury Police Department’s No Shave fundraising efforts, visit https://because.massgeneral.org/fundraiser/2410104.
To support Wilmington Police Department’s No Shave fundraising efforts, https://because.massgeneral.org/fundraiser/2449687.
To support Winchester Police Department’s No Shave fundraising efforts, https://because.massgeneral.org/WinchesterPD19
To support Woburn Police Department’s No Shave fundraising efforts, https://because.massgeneral.org/WoburnPD19
To support Reading Police Department’s No Shave fundraising efforts, https://because.massgeneral.org/fundraiser/2407676
To support North Reading Police Department’s No Shave fundraising efforts, https://because.massgeneral.org/fundraiser/2437213
For more information about Home Base No Shave and a list of participating departments, https://because.massgeneral.org/campaign/2019-home-base-no-shave/c248490.
About Home Base:
Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital program, is dedicated to healing the invisible wounds of veterans of all eras, service members, military families and families of the fallen through world-class clinical care, wellness, education and research.
As a National Center of Excellence, Home Base operates the first and largest private-sector clinic in the nation devoted to providing life-saving clinical care and support for the treatment of the invisible wounds to include post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, anxiety, depression, co-occurring substance use disorder, family relationship challenges and other issues associated with training and deployment.
Since its inception, Home Base has provided care and support to more than 21,000 veterans and family members and trained more than 73,000 clinicians, educators, first responders and community members – all at no cost – ensuring a brighter future for the 21st century warrior and military family.
Serving veterans and families from all over the world, Home Base is headquartered in the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston with a satellite location in Southwest Florida, which as a nonprofit organization, operates predominantly on the philanthropic generosity of a grateful nation.
For more information please visit www.homebase.org.