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Sister of Fallen Veteran Runs Boston Marathon in His Honor

Donor Story

Sister of Fallen Veteran Runs Boston Marathon in His Honor

Heather Diamond is running the Boston Marathon in support of Home Base and in honor of her late brother, Navy Veteran Scott Diamond.

Marie Walton
February 26, 2024

On Monday, April 15, Heather Diamond will run the 128th Boston Marathon®, the last on her list needed to complete all six major marathons. She is running in memory of her older brother, Scott Diamond, a Navy veteran who lost his life to suicide in 2009. But she is also running to raise funds for Home Base, a 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. Home Base was founded by Massachusetts General Hospital and the Boston Red Sox.

A Tragic Lack of Support

“I have no doubt that if Home Base had been around when Scott was struggling with the pain of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), he would still be here,” says Heather. Scott was just 39 when he took his life on April 7, 2009. The note he left behind contained only two words: “I tried.”

Scott served in the Navy for 13 years, fighting in the Gulf War, an experience that was so traumatic for him, Heather says, that he never recovered. Heather describes how painful it is, even 15 years later, to visit Scott’s grave. After leaving the military, Heather says that Scott struggled with suicidal ideation, severe depression and alcohol addiction, eventually landing him in inpatient substance use disorder rehabilitation. Scott attempted to take his life several times prior to his death, Heather says, resulting in multiple involuntary psychiatric hospitalizations over the course of a decade.

“The resources we have now just weren’t available to him in the early 2000s,” says Heather. She shares that Scott never had access to any kind of trauma therapy or support group, or the kind of long-term inpatient treatment he really needed. The only solution offered to him was medication, and, as Heather explains, that wasn’t enough. “He felt so alone, like he was broken beyond repair,” she recalls.

Scott’s passing irreparably changed the lives of his whole family, especially his little sister. “He was, and still is, my hero,” says Heather. “He took me to my first Florida Gators football game. He took me tubing the first time I saw snow and helped me build my first snowman. He threatened to beat up the boys who broke my heart. He was everything you would want in an older brother.”

Scott Diamond

Running for Change

Heather began her running career shortly after Scott’s death, motivated by the opportunity marathoning gave her to raise money for suicide prevention. “I don’t actually enjoy running,” Heather jokes, “but I enjoy accomplishing something incredible.” And she doesn’t just mean the physical feat — Heather estimates that throughout her marathoning career, she has raised around $30,000 for organizations that work toward suicide prevention and that support Veterans. It brings her some solace to know that Scott would be proud of the way she’s turned his tragic passing into an opportunity to fight for positive change in the world.

Running the Boston Marathon in support of Home Base and in memory of Scott is “meant to be,” says Heather. Although he was born and raised in Florida, Scott was a dedicated Boston sports fan and loved the city. She first became familiar with the work of Home Base when she signed up to run the annual Run to Home Base at Fenway Park, where Scott was honored among many fellow Fallen Veterans — the perfect way to remember the avid Boston sports fan.

Addressing a Public Health Crisis

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each day in the United States, more than 17 Veterans lose their lives to suicide, a rate 57.3% higher than non-Veterans. Heather hopes that the funds she raises for Home Base will help reduce those numbers. She emphasizes the importance of the community Home Base provides, not only for Veterans coping with trauma, but for their Families and the Families of the Fallen.

“The survivor’s guilt I feel is unending,” says Heather. She explains that having access to resources that could have helped her and her family understand how to help and support Scott, and also to help them process their grief following his passing, would have been life-changing, maybe even lifesaving, for Scott.

“Unfortunately, our story is not unique. There are so many other Heathers and Scotts out there,” Heather says. “But if all this pain can lead to helping save even one struggling Veteran, it will have been worth it,” she says.

If you would like to support Heather, please visit her fundraising page.

To learn more about Home Base, click here.

To learn more about Mass General’s marathon team, click here.