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Boston Herald
Boston Herald
22 Jul 2023
Lance Reynolds


NextImg:Run to Home Base race in Fenway Park a lifeline for supporting veterans and families

Former Olympian Ruben Sanca cruised to first place in Saturday’s Run to Home Base at Fenway Park. After crossing the finish line, the Dorchester resident thought about how the government needs to provide better care to his friends who are veterans.

“When someone goes to fight for this country they should be provided all of the support they can, especially when it comes to medical care and well-being,” said Sanca, a long-distance runner who competed for Cape Verde in the 2012 London Olympic Games. “We are in a position where we have to support our veterans when they come back.”

Sanca and more than 2,500 runners and walkers laced up their sneakers early Saturday to participate in the 14th annual Run to Home Base, raising close to $3 million to support veterans and their families.

The event directly benefits Home Base, which Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner founded in 2009 in partnership with the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital.

While the organization has served more than 30,000 veterans and family members and trained over 85,000 clinicians, Executive Director Jack Hammond says he’s disappointed with the lack of government support. He highlighted how as many as 25 veterans die by suicide every day.

“For us, many of those are our friends and families. It is extremely personal for us,” Hammond told the early morning crowd. “Home Base was developed on Tom’s vision and partnership with the Red Sox to reimagine what is possible. If you keep doing the same thing over and over, we call that the definition of insanity. Frankly, that’s what’s happening in the government.”

Hammond, a retired brigadier general, follow proposed cuts to services at both the local and federal level.

President Biden’s budget request for the Department of Veterans Affairs carries a 22% cut in funding to what the VA calls “a broad range of critical programs.” The cuts, the VA states, would mean 30 million fewer veteran outpatient visits and 81,000 jobs lost across the Veterans Health Administration.

Locally, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu last month vetoed City Council-approved $900,000 reduction to the Office of Veterans Services.

Home Base has stepped up. The Red Sox and Red Sox Foundation have generated over $41 million to support the organization’s programs and services since its creation.

What started out as a clinic that provided care at no cost to New England veterans and families has expanded to a presence well outside the region. Home Base has cared for veterans from all 50 states and 13 countries and has offered services in Florida since 2014.

Home Base will be partnering with the HonorHealth system in Phoenix to train clinicians with MGH instructors and fundraise for care so veterans in Arizona can also get care at no cost. Services will launch by the end of this year.

The Charlestown-based organization is also working with tribal leaders in the Southwest to build a mobile clinic program to provide intensive care on reservations.

“We are accomplishing what the VA should be doing nationally,” Hammond told the Herald after he finished running. “Government-wise, they have fallen behind, which is why programs like Home Base have delivered the private sector resources to accomplish these herculean tasks.”

A double-amputee runs on blades for the final leg along Lansdowne Street of the Run to Home Base road races at Fenway Park Saturday. (Paul Connors/Boston Herald)

Paul Connors/Boston Herald
A double-amputee runs on blades for the final leg along Lansdowne Street of the Run to Home Base road races at Fenway Park Saturday. (Paul Connors/Boston Herald)

BOSTON, MA - JULY 22-SATURDAY: Volunteers Iraiza Lopez, top and Isabel Stickler, bottom, cheer on runners entering Fenway Park during the Run to Home Base 9-kilometer and 5-kilometer road races July 22, 2023, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

Paul Connors/Boston Herald
BOSTON, MA – JULY 22-SATURDAY: Volunteers Iraiza Lopez, top and Isabel Stickler, bottom, cheer on runners entering Fenway Park during the Run to Home Base 9-kilometer and 5-kilometer road races July 22, 2023, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

Ruben Santa, of Dorchester, waves to the crowd as he stands at home plate after coming in first during the Run to Home Base 9-kilometer road race at Fenway Park Saturday. (Paul Connors/Boston Herald)

Paul Connors/Boston Herald
Ruben Santa, of Dorchester, waves to the crowd as he stands at home plate after coming in first during the Run to Home Base 9-kilometer road race at Fenway Park Saturday. (Paul Connors/Boston Herald)