In the United States Army, he was an E-4 Specialist with the 42 INF Div., serving in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As a private person, Michael Hooper was a man struggling with alcohol abuse and depression. He didn’t know where to get help until he called the Veteran’s Crisis Hotline. From there Michael was introduced to SMART Recovery through the VA Hospital. He knew from the first meeting it was “going to be a life changer,” but it wasn’t until a four-month intensive, inpatient program, that Michael realized how valuable the SMART Recovery program was for his survival.
The program was effective for Michael because there was a direct sense of purpose and self-empowerment, which resonated with his military training. After completing the facilitator training, he felt compelled to pay it forward and started facilitating his own meetings to share SMART with more people in his Hackensack, New Jersey, community.
Now, in his new role as the State Outreach Director for Ohio, Michael will bring his authenticity, passion and lived experiences to new audiences that might otherwise never hear of SMART. He says, “having grown up in a minority neighborhood, the need for non-profit services in these communities is great. The individuals suffering in these communities deserve the same opportunities as everyone else.” He hopes to get more communities involved with meetings and available resources. Michael will also continue to expand outreach within the VAs, schools, and prison systems in Ohio. This is a “boots on the ground position,” he says, that will take him where he is needed because “outreach is here to help save lives.”