OUR HISTORY

Veteran’s PATH was established in 2008 by Lee Klinger Lesser and Chris Fortin, two long-time mindfulness and meditation teachers with backgrounds in western mental health, emotional intelligence and somatic healing.

The Founders:

They came together to share a mutual concern about what was happening to returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. As mothers of children the same age as current returning veterans, and as people who lived during the Vietnam era and watched what happened to returning veterans then, and the suffering that has continued over decades, they wanted to contribute to a more welcoming and productive transition from the military into civilian life.

Lee and Chris sought to adapt mindfulness and meditation – which has been scientifically shown to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, substance abuse and other conditions – to the unique needs of the veteran community, to meet the obvious gap in mental health and life skills programming for veterans returning home to civilian life.

From Fiscal Sponsorship to 501c3

The San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC) – one of the largest, oldest and most respected meditation centers in North America – enthusiastically backed the project and became Veteran’s PATH’s fiscal sponsor in 2010 and remained in that role until we received our IRS Determination Letter as a non-profit organization effective July 1st, 2015. We remain very grateful for their support. Our tax-id number is 47-4428490. You can view or download a copy of our IRS Determination Letter here.

Programs Offered

Since 2008, the events have grown from one U.S. Marine veteran at our very first event to an average of 20 per event, with waiting lists for all of the annual River Rafting Trips and Women’s Retreats. We now offer a menu of one-day events, 5-day retreats, 9-week Anchor Programs, Alumni Retreats and Veteran Leadership Programs that began in California and are expanding to Tennessee in 2017. Check out the Programs page for more about each of these programs.

 


Name Change

When we first began our name was Honoring the Path of the Warrior (HPW). This was a long name that even many veterans didn’t remember. Our goal is to make this effective programming available throughout the country, so we decided we should have a name that people could connect with and remember. We reached out to all of our stakeholders: veterans, donors, facilitators and came up with our new name that represents the heart of what we do: