Home Base SWFL, a local non-profit founded by the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital dedicated to supporting veterans, service members, and military families, received a $15,000 COVID-19 relief grant from the Collier Comes Together Fund, a charitable fund of the Community Foundation of Collier County (CFCC).
The grant will fund the Warrior Health and Fitness program, designed to provide free health, education, and wellness services to veterans, service members, and military spouses in the Southwest Florida five-county. The program was developed to address the health care and mental health needs of local veterans facing increased levels of post-traumatic stress (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and co-ocurring substance use as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grant will improve access to the supervised exercise, nutrition education, and stress and sleep management skills provided in Collier County in collaboration with Lee Health and the Greater Naples YMCA. The funds will ensure participants have access to physical evaluations, an individualized training program, dietetic consultations, Warrior Yoga, training in relaxation response, PGA Pro golf lessons, and health education.
Since 2014, Home Base SWFL has helped hundreds of veterans regain control of mental and physical health through personalized fitness and nutrition programs and a peer support network. The program offers stress management tools can help veterans and active service members identify the triggers that would necessitate more intensive and complex treatment.
“Isolation is a symptom of many of the invisible wounds Home Base treats. The stress and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic can aggravate and exacerbate the mental health challenges Veterans’ face,” said Armando Hernandez, Home Base SWFL program director. “The Community Foundation of Collier County’s investment will ensure Home Base SWFL can continue to deliver the Warrior Health and Fitness program, our least vulnerable entry point into self-care, to a deserving and vulnerable population during a time when funds are needed the most.”
After serving more that 25 years with the Unites States Army, retired senior listed officer Master Sergeant Fernando Moreau struggled with PTSD, depression, and anxiety and turned to alcohol to cope. When he was referred to Home Base SWFL, he was suicidal and homicidal and his wife and children lived in fear.
“I am light years away from where I was. I no longer have defeating attitudes,” Moreau said. “I learned to love myself. I don’t know where I would be without Home Base SWFL. It changed my outlook on life.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CFCC has revised the grants process to make current grants as unrestricted as possible, so nonprofit partners have maximum flexibility to respond to the crisis. CFCC is directing all possible unrestricted dollars into the grant pool, in order to have more funds available to grant. The funds may be used for general operating, COIVD-19 relief, or programs.