"One of the lessons learned the hard way after Vietnam is that no matter how divisive the conflict, a grateful nation must always say thank you, separate the warrior from the war, and give every veteran the respect and support they've earned," said Kerry. "Welcome home for Vietnam vets is long overdue but it is never too late to say thank you, and it is never too late to keep faith with the people who risked it all and lost friends in service to country. We've come a long way in treating the wounds of war, those seen and unseen, and an invaluable part of the progress has come from the groups just like those represented right here. I salute the partnership between Home Base, the Red Sox Foundation, and Mass General. This partnership is the definition of a commitment we should all share: to help our returning veterans, and to stand with them as they recover from injuries that are visible and from those that are unseen but just as real and just as deserving of our support."
More than 2.6 million men and women served in Vietnam from 1965 to 1973. The conflict resulted in nearly 60 thousand American casualties. Many of those who did survive returned home with injuries both visible and unseen, and often to an unfriendly welcome, further deepening their wounds.
"We cannot do anything about the shameful treatment our Vietnam veterans received when they returned home, but we sure as heck have an opportunity to get this right now," said Brigadier General (ret.) Jack Hammond who is the Executive Director for Home Base and a Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.
On July 15, Home Base and the Red Sox Foundation will provide a richly deserved "welcome home" to hundreds of Vietnam veterans, honoring their service and sacrifice. The 8th Annual Run to Home Base will bring thousands together at Fenway Park for a 9K run and a 5K run/walk to raise funds and awareness for Home Base and their mission to heal invisible wounds such as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.
"With such a significant milestone anniversary, we thought it was important to recognize the veterans who served during the Vietnam War," said Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. "The divisive nature of that conflict, coupled with the physiological issues they grappled with upon their return, made for an unwelcome homecoming for many of these service members. While we cannot erase the past, this is one small way we can pay tribute to their service and recognize the sacrifices they made for their country. We look forward to appropriately honoring them this summer during our annual Run to Home Base event at Fenway Park."
Over the coming months, individual and corporate partners will be identified to sponsor runners to complete the Run to Home Base in honor of a designated Vietnam veteran.
"Their mission is complete," said Hammond. "Ours has just begun."