When he left the Army in 2015, David Hoffmaster came to the realization that after being surrounded by camaraderie and community, all too often, veterans leave the service feeling isolated. They lack the resources and the community they so desperately need and deserve. He was determined to find a way to change that for his fellow brothers and sisters.
In 2010, just a few months from a year-long deployment to the Kunar and Pech regions of Afghanistan with 2-35 IN, he attended the Milwaukee Irish Festival - the largest Irish Music Festival in the world. It was a festival that would have a lasting impact on David, as he was able to connect with a community of like-minded people and share stories, experiences, and ideas. After a weekend of soaking up the music, tradition, culture, and camaraderie, he knew it would become an annual pilgrimage.
After many conversations and hard work, in 2018, the first official Hero Hut was launched at the festival. David, MKE Irish Fest, and a team of volunteers set up a collaborative community area under a large tent that offered a welcoming, low pressure place for veterans to learn about services and opportunities available to them, build friendships, and forge a connection to their local community.
The Hero Hut had food, beverages, networking opportunities, resources, and thousands of people to talk to about common goals and experiences. Through partnerships with like-minded organizations and a collective effort, we were able to build networks designed to support veterans nationwide. We were also able to provide a welcoming space to relax, grab a snack or drink, meet people, and find out about local services and resources ranging from Veteran Affairs, to housing, education, mental health, and more.
In 2019, Hero Hut was officially set up as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. David and his team of volunteers used connections with friends, family, fellow West Point graduates, and many others to get Hero Hut set up at other events and festivals around the country. But when COVID hit in 2020 and many events were postponed, things were put on hold.
Hero Hut has now been ramping back up and relaunching at events in 2021. The growth of Hero Hut and the Hero Hut team has been exponential. We’ve been able to bring our Hero Hut to sporting events, the PGA Tour, art fairs, music festivals, county and state fairs, community festivals - and the list keeps growing. We support veterans of all ages and generations, from active duty service members, to those who've recently left the military, to retired veterans, and more. We take pride in serving military service members, veterans, first responders, their families and loved ones.
"We really want to build a community for vets, first responders, and their families to show them what kind of resources and support are out there. We want to be at places that people already love and go to (music festivals, barbecues, Nascar races, etc.), and bring the information to them." says David Hoffmaster. “We want to encourage all veterans to find new creative outlets, fulfilling ways to give back, and a sense of belonging through our community”.
So whether you are a veteran, love a veteran, or simply want to help veterans, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to Hero Hut.