Veterans Seek Out Home Base Florida at FGCU


Kylie Fetter

The Home Base Florida treatment facility is located on FGCU’s campus in the Kleist Health Education Center.

Kylie Vetter, Contributing Writer

FGCU, in partnership with Home Base Florida, is striving to help service members, military families and relatives heal from the emotional and physical damages of war.

Home Base is a nonprofit organization that offers clinical, physical and mental health services for veterans at no charge. 

In 2014, FGCU was the first to collaborate with the organization to launch the Veteran Health and Fitness program in Southwest Florida. The treatment facility is now located on FGCU’s campus in the Kleist Health Education Center.

“We remain at the forefront of discovering new treatments to ensure a brighter future for warriors and their families,” according to the Home Base Florida website.

Home Base Florida has served more than 500 Florida veterans since 2014. Their work is done by using a variety of treatment options, from social and physical wellness-based programs to injury recovery and mental trauma treatment. 

Home Base Warrior Health and Fitness Program is a 90-day program dedicated to exercise and physical well-being. Aside from physical training, mental health services are offered regionally through two outpatient clinics in Naples and Fort Myers.

Military service is an important part of a veteran’s belonging and purpose, therefore making the adjustment from military to civilian life difficult to navigate. Homebase offers complex care in hopes of rebuilding camaraderie, community and other aspects that are lost in the transition to post-military service. 

Assistant Director of Development Jason Cooper describes how vital it is to not disregard the needs of those who have served. 

In past generations, discharged veterans were not eligible for certain services and military care. Homebase is open to any military personnel who needs attention.

“We don’t discriminate against distressed assets,” Cooper said. “We’re not here to judge a veteran. Our goal is to reduce barriers in order to deal with wounds in a healthy and positive way.”

The programs at Homebase offer the opportunity for veterans and military families to engage in those needs. Family members are an important part of the recovery process for veterans, so relatives are invited to partake in the healing journey by using their health resources to combat mental stress.

The Home Base Florida treatment facility is located on FGCU’s campus in the Kleist Health Education Center. (Kylie Fetter)

Veterans require very specific and specialized care that is not easy to get access to. Armando Hernandez, the program director, says veterans need high quality and trauma-informed care after service. And not only do they need these services in a timely manner, but they must be ensured at minimal to no cost. 

“In this model that we built down here in partnership with FGCU and Lee Health and David Lawrence Center, we’ve created a community empowerment model that is addressing every single one of those unique needs so that veterans have an easier time getting into care,” said Hernandez.

Homebase is providing a free and easily accessible outlet for a big part of the Florida population. These programs are sponsored through partnerships and completely philanthropically driven.  

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Florida has one of the highest veteran populations in the country, with over 1.5 million veterans residing in the state. 

In addition to its clinical services, Home Base Florida has also partnered with local organizations and businesses to provide veterans with employment and educational opportunities.

“I have a personal tie to the veteran community, so for me, seeing the community wrap their arms around this vulnerable population who is so deserving of the care that we provide is extremely rewarding,” said Cooper.

After being founded by The Red Sox and Massachusetts General Hospital in 2009, the expansion to Florida was the first chapter of development outside of the Homebase’s Intensive Clinical Program (ICP) in Boston. In Oct. 2021, Homebase launched a health and fitness program at Tampa General Hospital. 

Home Base Florida has already served thousands of veterans and their families in Southwest Florida. The program continues to expand its reach across Florida in efforts to mend, reunite and heal the veteran and military community.