Home Base gives Army vet her life back

Raytheon Technologies supports organization for veterans, families

When Kerry Kendall left the U.S. Army, she took with her the invisible wounds of war — memories and the damage they inflict on mental health.

“I was no longer able to sleep. I suffered from some nightmares and anxiety attacks,” said Kendall, who served as an air defense artillery officer in Afghanistan.

After six years in the Army, she’s now in the same position as so many of her fellow veterans: trying to live ordinary civilian lives with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Things that never really bothered me were having a profound impact on my life – little things such as slamming doors or people raising their voice,” she said.

Kendall, a capture and program manager at Raytheon, found hope in Home Base, a program that offers treatment and counseling. It was founded by Massachusetts General Hospital and the Red Sox Foundation.

She received 18 months of therapy and traumatic brain injury evaluation.

The organization’s signature fundraiser, the Run to Home Base 5K walk and 9K run, was held virtually this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It marked the third year Raytheon Technologies participated, raising more than $300,000 for the event to date.

Home Base has provided care to over 24,000 veterans and family members, and trained more than 73,000 clinicians, educators, first responders and community members at no cost to them.

“This is a program that is truly affecting the 22 veteran suicides we face each day,” said retired Army Brig. Gen. Jack Hammond, a 30-year veteran who serves as executive director of Home Base.

In 2020, Raytheon Technologies also provided financial support for the Families of the Fallen, a Home Base program that assists an umbrella organization called the Tragedy Assistance Program.

“These are folks that have made that ultimate sacrifice,” Hammond said. “They’ve lost their soldier – whether it was their mother, father, sister, brother, son or daughter. They lost somebody very special to them.”

Raytheon Technologies employees and families laced up for the 2020 Virtual Run to Home Base. (Photo: Michael Pasquarello, U.S. Army veteran)

Kendall looks back on her military service with mixed feelings; it helped her develop as a person but also left her with memories she’d prefer to forget. When her career was cut short by an injury during a training exercise at the Army’s Special Operations Civil Affairs school, she had few career options and trouble aspiring to much of anything.

“When I first started treatment for Home Base…I was numb,” Kendall said. “I didn’t experience any feeling, whether it be joy or sadness.”

The invisible wounds of war may last a lifetime, but Home Base offers veterans, service members and their families clinical care and innovative wellness programs.

“They don’t believe in simply throwing medication at a problem,” Kendall said. “They truly try to understand the patient as a whole person and give them the best treatment.”

Many veterans struggle with the stigma associated with their injuries and may be reluctant to seek care. Home Base can serve as a beacon of hope.

“Looking back on my experience, to be able to take the time…to truly understand my situation and my own individual diagnosis, that helped bring a lot of clarity to my life,” Kendall said. “I owe my whole life to Home Base.”

To learn more about the organization, visit Home Base.