Mission and History

MISSION

Veterans PATH (a new name for Honoring the Path of the Warrior) provides returning veterans a safe environment and enables them to rediscover meaning, purpose, and joy in their lives through mindfulness, meditation, and community.

Our programs combine nature and engaging physical activities; meditation, Sensory Awareness and mindfulness practices. The intent is to provide veterans with connection, community and tools that support them in using their strengths and experiences to find a meaningful and productive path in civilian life. Mindfulness-based interventions have been scientifically proven to be successful at transforming stress, anxiety and trauma in a number of diverse populations and are being used within the VA system for returning veterans as well as active duty for deployed soldiers.

Veteran’s PATH is a non-profit organization, effective July 1st, 2015, with tax-id number 47-4428490. You can view or download a copy of our IRS Determination Letter here.

Between 2008 and July 1, 2015, we were under the fiscal sponsorship of the San Francisco Zen Center, and remain very grateful for their support.

HISTORY

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

When sharing this vision, with friends from the San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC) – one of the largest, oldest and most respected mediation centers in the North America – SFZC enthusiastically backed the project and agreed to contribute some administrative services and resources, which included Green Gulch Farm and San Francisco City Center as locations for four retreats in the fall of 2008 and the Spring of 2009. In 2010, SFZC became Veteran’s PATH’s fiscal sponsor and remained in that role until we received our IRS Determination Letter in 2015.

Since 2008, the events have grown from three participants to an average of 20 per event, with waiting lists for many of the annual River Rafting Trip and Women’s Retreat. We now offer six one-day events, two retreats (the River Rafting Trip and the Women’s Retreat), 3-month Practice Periods and a Veteran Leadership Program. Check out the Programs page for more about each these programs.