Just weeks after then 19-year-old Jason Thompson finished his basic training for the U.S. Army in 1990, he was deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Storm. He spent six months among National Guard members who had also been called to deploy at a moment’s notice. Following this deployment, he spent the next seven years serving in transportation units where he drove for foreign dignitaries and general officers. “It was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” he says.
In 1997, Jason sustained a back injury and following treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he was discharged from the Army. As he rehabilitated from his injury, he struggled to transition back to civilian life. “When I got out, it was like, what do I do now?” he says. “I felt like a failure. The military was all I had known in my adult life. It was hard to lose that structure and community.”
Thanks to support from his family, friends and fellow Veterans, he was able to make it through that challenging time. He began coaching high school sports, seeking out the sense of purpose, comradery and community he had felt in the military.
A New Sense of Purpose
Jason learned about a program called Home Base from a friend who worked at Massachusetts General Hospital. Founded by Mass General and the Boston Red Sox, Home Base is a national nonprofit dedicated to healing the invisible wounds of war for Veterans of all eras, Service Members, Military Families and Families of the Fallen through world-class, direct clinical care, wellness, education and research.
Jason felt strongly about supporting his military community and fourteen years ago, he decided to participate in the Run to Home Base, an annual fundraiser that provides vital funds for clinical care and support for Veterans and their Families.
He has participated each year since, and has raised nearly $50,000 for the program. This year alone, he has raised $15,000. He emails minor league baseball teams requesting tickets to raffle off, asks restaurants, hotels and museums for gift cards and he and his wife Jodi host large gatherings in their community to solicit donations. “The more money I raise, the more Veterans I can help take care of,” he explains. “Home Base has served more than 30,000 Veterans since 2009. And they don’t take care of just the Veteran, they take care of the entire family.”
No Better Feeling
Jason describes running the Run to Home Base itself as “simply amazing.” A dedicated Massachusetts sports fan, he claims that “no Superbowl or World Series win will ever come close to being able to Run to Home Base at Fenway Park and across that iconic home plate.”
And each year, Jason picks a Veteran or Service Member in his community to dedicate his run to. This year, he’s running in memory of his uncle, Navy Veteran and Home Base supporter, Don Latter.
“I live by the motto ‘No Man Left Behind,” he says. “And that’s why I run for this community, in honor of those who can’t.”
For more information on how to support Home Base, please contact us.