By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That was the message from retired Brigadier General Jack Hammond at a Thursday night panel discussion at the JFK Library sponsored in part by the Home Base Program.

Hammond is a Reading native who commanded two battalions in Iraq and who now helps run the Home Base, which offers mental health services to veterans.

The Thursday night panel focused on the so-called “invisible wounds of war” brought back home by men and women who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Those wounds include post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Hammond says it is difficult enough for young veterans to cope with life after serving in a war zone, but having to watch the situation deteriorate after they leave, as it has in Iraq, can be almost too much to handle.

“It starts causing you to question whether it was worth it,” Hammond says.

“It’s still a pretty bitter pill to swallow. I know when Fallujah fell a few weeks ago — I fought there for quite a period of time, and that one stung, because I know folks who died trying to liberate that city.”

Hammond admits it can be easy for a veteran of the Iraq war to feel like his or her efforts were for nothing now that the country seems to be slipping out of control.

“Having gone through this myself when I watched Fallujah fall, it really does bother you,” he says. “But you’ve got to talk to other veterans, talk to folks that can assist you with it, and process this. Because keeping it in will only result in you being angry, bitter, and carrying this around for a while.”

Local veterans who think Home Base can help them are encouraged to call 617-724-5202 or visit the organization’s website at


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