Soldiers ski for free - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Soldiers ski for free

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It was a busy Sunday at the Sugarbush Mountain as skiers and snowboarders headed up the lifts. For the third year the mountain hosted 100 veterans and family members with free passes, rentals, and lessons.

Cathleen Haldopoulos's husband is deployed, she said, "I just think it's a great program and I just want to thank everybody. Because like today, these are the happy times. So it's great to be with them and I know they will be around if we need them for anything else."

The event was organized by Home Base, an organization that treats New England veterans with post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injuries. Home Base also provides monthly recreational outings across the north east.

Director of the Veteran Outreach Home Base Program Roger Knight said, "At the end of the day not all veterans and family members need to come into care at home base. They don't need to come in and get care for post-traumatic stress or deployment related stresses that the family may have. They may need to just meet some other military families and just have a great day on the slopes."

Many of the military families say the chance to ski is great but connecting with other families is even better.

Massachusetts National Guardsman Sean Halbrook said, "Now we can sit and take a little break, talk to people, and network around."

Halbrook's wife Nicole adds, "They are in the same position as you, everybody has the same issues with deployments and families."

"My children have been able to meet other children through the Home Base program, and when you're at the Home Base programs it's usually a positive happy time, so it's always fun," said Haldopoulos.

Cathleen Haldopoulos says her husband joined the air force 22 years ago, and is currently deployed. One of their three sons, Jack, says he loves participating in the Home Base programs both to make new memories, and to help get through the tough times.

"It lets you keep in touch and you know the military is still holding out for you, everyone is helping you. It feels good to have someone to keep you up when you're down," said Jack Haldopoulos.

And for the veterans and servicemen who were able to hit the slopes many say the Home Base program provides a much welcomed support.

"I am proud to be a national guardsman and I know that I have these type of people back here to support me. So it's a great program to keep people motivated and that's what we need," said Halbrook.

A special on the slopes to honor those who have served.

Home Base was created through a partnership between the Red Sox Foundation and Mass General Hospital.

For more information on the foundation click this link -- http://www.homebaseprogram.org

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