Military Veterans and Hoffman
The Hoffman Institute is committed to providing opportunities for Military Veterans to take the Hoffman Process, and helping to facilitate this in many ways. We believe that when these men and women have a chance to get their lives back by getting the healing support and empowerment they so rightly deserve, they are able to make a huge contribution to other Veterans, their families, and the nation.
In 2015, Hoffman Board Member Christy Foley introduced us to Lee Lesser, co-founder of Veteran’s PATH, a non-profit organization that builds a community of support for Veterans by offering mindfulness, wellness, and meditation tools. For more information, visit veteranspath.org.
Impact on Military Veterans
Through this introduction, a successful collaboration has resulted in multiple Veterans being referred to and enrolling in the Hoffman Process each year. Seeing the immense impact that the Process has had on Veterans, we have focused efforts to raise money for a scholarship fund specifically for Veterans. In the last two years, we have received generous individual donations and grant funding for Veteran scholarships, which we hope will continue in the years to come.
Some of this funding has given us the opportunity to invest in research and studies, which has allowed us to enhance our enrollment procedures in support of Veterans. We have been able to implement additional support to ensure that these courageous warriors have a safe and healing journey in the Process.
Reflections from Scholarship Recipients
Matt Brannagan, Hoffman’s Director of Faculty and a senior Hoffman teacher, has been a huge resource in developing our Veteran scholarship program. His commitment to support Veterans doing the Hoffman Process comes from his own military experience as a combat leader in Iraq.
“Shortly after completing the Hoffman Process, I was sent to Iraq for a year-long military deployment, having been reactivated as a member of the California Army National Guard. What became clear to me in that grueling and challenging environment was that I was dealing with stress in a way that was very different than before. I was aware that my old, patterned stress response was combining with my natural stress response, but now I was able to distinguish the patterned part, acknowledge it, diminish and transform it.
Ultimately, by using the tools of the Process, I was able to reduce my stress in Iraq, and become more present for those I was serving alongside, and particularly for those I was leading. In an environment like that, being present is essential. After such an experience, I can only speculate what my life might be like now without the tools of the Process.
I know Veterans who have continued to experience the toll of their military experiences well after their tour, and I understand and feel compassion for those who experienced and are still dealing with PTSD. I feel blessed that I was able to integrate my experiences in a way that has both helped me grow and has freed me of the debilitating effects of PTSD. In exploring my own growth, I came across some studies on Post Traumatic Growth (PTG), in which psychologists (Richard Tedeschi, PhD, and Lawrence Calhoun, PhD, Journal of Traumatic Stress, 1996) identified five areas as signs of growth after traumatic experiences:
- Appreciation of life
- Relationship with others
- New possibilities in life
- Personal strength
- Spiritual change
Those were exactly the areas I had worked on as a student of the Hoffman Process. In retrospect, I believe that the growth I experienced in the Process was instrumental in helping my growth and integration during and after my combat experiences.
When I first felt called to become a Hoffman teacher, the biggest inspiration for me was the clear and experiential recognition that “This really works!”
– Matt Brannagan, First Sergeant, California Army National Guard (Ret.); January 2004 Process Graduate
“I want to thank you for this life-changing opportunity to find healing and wholeness. I served in the Army National Guard for 15 years, about 5 of which were active duty. Although I was never in a combat zone, I saw hell.
I’ve been on a rigorous healing journey for about 9 years, searching for healing and regaining a sense of who I am. I believe all those things – like spending time in nature, practicing mindfulness, going to retreats with other Veterans through Veteran’s PATH (a wonderful organization that helped me tremendously) – prepared me to really delve deep into the Process and regain my life.
Before the Process I felt like I was just trying to survive and now as I write this from the beach here in Monterey after using my tools earlier this afternoon, I can say finally that I’m working and living. Thank you for the opportunity for me to save my own life.”
– Suzy Matsubara, Military Intelligence Officer, Captain, California Army National Guard; October 2018 Process Graduate
“When I left the military, I found re-entering civilian life and dealing with people on an emotional level very difficult. I continued to suppress those emotions to the point that I would become resentful and angry toward others, which would turn into frustration as I began to blame myself. This cycle of behavior went on for years and I felt broken. I tried therapy… and other modalities of self-realization, only to have them fall short.
Through the Hoffman Process I was able to identify where these behaviors come from, why I have them, and how I can manage them. To say that experiencing the Process was cathartic would be an understatement. It provided me with the insight to guide my life in the direction I want it to go. It provided much psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions and feelings. Without it, I would still be in a perpetual cycle of negativity, with no identifiable way out.
As a Military Veteran, Hoffman provided me with a sense of community, camaraderie, and brother/sisterhood that I trusted and missed. It is through this support I have experienced during and after the Process that I am able to continue on this journey of becoming the person I want to be. I only wish I knew about it sooner!”
– Eric Smith, former Sergeant, 101st Field Artillery (TAB) U.S. Army; January 2018 Process Graduate
“I served in the Army from 1992–1995 as an infantryman. The experience had a significant impact on me in ways both positive and negative.
I attended the Hoffman Process in April of 2014. The clearing in my thinking and heart was profound. I walked away from that week feeling much more resilient, positive, and self-sufficient. Most notably I was aware of a sense of self-worth that I had long since forgotten.
Since the Process, I completed law school and passed the California Bar Exam. My life continues to unfold and I am present for both of my daughters as they explore their lives. I feel a general sense that I am going to make it and I feel like I can be of service to others in my community. Thus, I have value in this world.
I am forever grateful to the Hoffman Process and hope to see many more Veterans benefit in the way that I have.”
– Matt Huffman, U.S. Army, Specialist E-4 Infantryman, 1992-95; April 2014 Process Graduate
“Throughout the Hoffman Process, I felt safe with the Process, my fellow participants and the teachers. As a former Marine, and with a father who was also a former Marine, during the week I discovered patterns that were deeply rooted in my being. Programmed from birth, and reinforced with military service, this false identity and the narrative chatter that was eroding my life had created a belief system that it was my protector, and without it I would not survive. This false self was my shield and my armor and has prevented or destroyed more relationships and opportunities than I care to mention. Before I met my wife six years ago, I had never experienced a single moment of joy. As she helped me open this gift, my life changed dramatically.
What I discovered during the Process is my freedom and sovereignty to be me, and not my parents. Freedom from the thoughts, feelings, belief systems, and behaviors of the violent nature of the men in my heredity and the loving but helpless women they attracted.
Thank you again for your dedication to this work, for leading this wonderful group of teachers and growing community of healthy and happy beings.”
– John Henry Parker, Marine, Forward Air Controller; April 2019 Process Graduate
John Henry is a former Marine, the son of a Korea and Vietnam combat Veteran, and the father of Danny Facto, an Iraq/Afghanistan Combat Veteran, who was killed in an excessive speed-related motorcycle accident after completing his military service.
John Henry’s passion for supporting and working with transitioning Veterans and their families is in memory of his son Danny. They created an audiobook together titled “Transitioning Veterans,” which is available through transitioningveteransbook.com.
“I am incredibly grateful to Hoffman for so many positive changes in my life, especially for opening a doorway to further help Veterans.”
– Sharon Dilley, August 2018 Process Graduate
Sharon Dilley, although not a Veteran herself, has a strong commitment to serve Veterans. Prior to Hoffman, she taught Veterans how to train their own service dogs. She recently became part of the American Humane Service Dog Training Program, a national organization that pairs rescued dogs with Veterans, providing training for both the dog and the Veteran. For more information about this training program, visit americanhumane.org.
“As the staff coordinator for this wonderful project, I have been a strong advocate for Military Veterans since the end of the Vietnam war. Until recently, I haven’t been able to find a vehicle big enough to move forward with the passion I felt for Veterans to have the support they need to share their very unique gifts. I am very honored and grateful to say that the Hoffman Process has given me such a vehicle. Thank you.”
– Nancy Coleman, Hoffman Staff