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Generously supported in part by Welcome Back Veterans (WBV), an initiative of the McCormick Foundation and Major League Baseball.
Major Craig Meling gets it.
The 38-year old says he understands the fits of rage. The sleepless nights. The feeling that nobody understands. He suffered through his own personal horrors after returning from a year-long deployment in Iraq and says he understands the desperation. But, thanks to treatment and the support of loved ones, he has since made it out the other side. Meling says he is one of the lucky ones.
“I support the Home Base Program in their mission to heal PTSD and other invisible wounds of war. I believe in treatment and I’m an advocate for getting help. I know what living is supposed to feel like, and I want that for all Veterans. That’s part of why I signed up for the Run to Home Base,” he explains.
That’s part of the reason, but it’s not the only reason. His other motivator is his friend, SPC Tommy Kidman, a combat medic who served in Afghanistan.
“Tommy was smart, he was funny, and he loved his family. He had two little girls and loved them more than anything in the world. He also was the type of guy who always put the mission and the needs of the Soldiers first before himself. He was a great person.”
Meling says his friend seemed haunted by some of the things he experienced while serving in the war. He did receive help and had the support of his loved ones-- but for Tommy, it did not seem to be enough. On July 15th, 2013, SPC Tommy Kidman took his own life.
“I am running to honor and memorialize Tommy. I don’t want to say goodbye to any more of my friends. I want to raise awareness and let people know that it’s okay if you are having issues. You’re not crazy, there is help. Treatment is out there and it’s okay to get it.”
“My son and his brothers and sisters in arms gave so much. They stepped up when duty called. Now they need us— and it’s time they get the support they need,” says Kidman’s mother, Jana Olson. “Programs like this provide resources to help not just servicemembers, but their families, too. And if other familes can be spared what we went through, if their sons and daughters can survive and function again, then I support it.”
Meling gave himself a fundraising goal of $750. He has so far raised over $2,000 and wants to keep going strong.
“I want to raise as much money as possible so I can feel like I did right by Tommy.”
Kidman’s family is flying in from Utah to watch Meling cross home plate. The run— on July 19th— is just days after the one year anniversary of his passing.
“I’m grateful to Craig for running in memory of my son. We are honored to be part of this, and I really appreciate this whole program,” says Olson.
If you would like to donate to Meling or any of the other men and women participating in the 2014 Run to Home Base presented by New Balance, visit www.RunToHomeBase.org. All proceeds go towards helping the Home Base Program heal the invisible wounds of war.
At Home Base, we recognize that military families are very resilient. But during the past ten years, even the strongest families have been challenged by having loved ones deployed multiple times and in harm's way for long periods of time.
Most military families in New England are part of the National Guard and Reserve. As a result, our military families do not have a large base community, and that can be isolating. In Massachusetts, many military children are the only child in their school who has a parent or another family member who is serving. Home Base provides clinical counseling for all family members throughout the deployment cycle.
Home Base offers clinical counseling and support to everyone affected by the challenges of the deployment cycle—including spouses, significant others, children at all ages, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, as well as close friends. We recognize that for family members, the return of a service member can be as stressful as when they were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. We understand that deployment– and combat–related stress and traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects everyone in the family differently.
In August 2011, the Red Sox Foundation hosted Home Base veterans and family members for an opportunity of a lifetime—to step up to the plate at Fenway Park, swing for the Green Monster, and run the bases. Children and adults, even grandparents, enjoyed the thrill. Carnival games, photos with the 2004 and 2007 World Series Trophies, tours of the Park, and a picnic of hot dogs and pizza were all part of the afternoon.
One participant said, "We will be talking about [the event] for a long, long time. And now, when I am old and grey, I can tell my grandkids about the time I hit a ball and ran the bases at Fenway Park, just like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Yaz and Big Papi. Wowo!"
One guest wrote, “As the mother of a veteran who is benefiting from the Home Base Program, thank you for the assistance you are providing him and for including the families in special events like these. It is all very much appreciated.”
In July 2011, more than 100 Rhode Island and Massachusetts military service members, veterans and their families attended a special “Home Base Night” hosted by the Pawtucket Red Sox. The evening, which included a barbeque and ball game, was part of the Home Base Adventure Series and helped to raise awareness of Home Base clinical services for veterans and families affected by deployment– and combat–related stress or traumatic brain injury (TBI).
During the pre–game, special guest and Home Base advisory board member Major General (ret.) Elder Granger and his wife Brenda presented a special commemorative Home Base Program coin to Mike Tamburro, President of the PawSox Baseball Club; Lou Schwechheimer, Vice President and General Manager of the PawSox Baseball Club; and Mike Roose, Strength and Conditioning Coach for the PawSox Baseball Club. Scott Ewert, a retired US Army Intelligence Sergeant from Warwick Rhode Island who suffered a traumatic brain injury while serving in Afghanistan, threw out the first pitch. The Maloney family of Norton, Massachusetts, opened the game with the traditional declaration of the words, “Play Ball!” Sergeant Kevin Maloney was deployed in Afghanistan with Dog Company 1-182nd Infantry.
Throughout the year, the Home Base Adventure Series offers military families an opportunity to come together for free activities including skiing, skating, sailing and admission to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Military families throughout New England may participate in the Adventure Series. Veterans and families do not need to be receiving care at Home Base to join in Adventure Series activities. To register for and receive Adventure Series information, email Catherine Moore. To see pictures from Home Base Adventure Series activities, visit our photo gallery.
Phone: (617) 724-5202
Home Base Program