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Retired Navy Captain Monica Hoff offers help to animals in need

Posted at 3:00 AM, Mar 27, 2024

HOWARD (NBC 26) — She's a retired Navy captain, and even though she started her military career in the early 1980s, she's continuing to give back to her community and country.

Retired Navy Captain Monica Hoff continues to give back to her community by connecting animals in need to people who can help.

"The military is all about the mission and focusing on the mission, and I think that's a good thing that transfers to other jobs and other occupations and goals," Hoff said.

Hoff credits her service for the better part of two decades to her success, and she eventually returned home to northeast Wisconsin to begin the Citizen Animal Response Team Auxiliary or CART. It's a non-profit group dedicated to connecting animals in need to people who want to help.

"It's really rewarding, because most people want to help animals," Hoff said.

Hoff said her years of service taught her about putting personal differences aside to achieve a greater goal, like caring for animals or managing a team of sailors, but she admits that climbing the ranks was no easy feat—especially as a woman in the military.

I asked Hoff, "What was it like to be a sailor, early 80s, and one of the few women as a diver too?"

Hoff responded, "Well, it was challenging. Just being a diver is one of the more challenging careers in the Navy. So, it wasn't so much about just being a woman, but everyone was challenged to make it through dive school."

Hoff humbly admitted barriers existed well beyond pursuing a male-dominated path and said, "I was never the fastest, or the strongest or the best swimmer. I mean, I was like the second worst swimmer in our class, but I just wouldn't quit."

Hoff said she always wanted to be in the military and serve her country, and she decided to pursue a path in the Navy because her father was in the Navy.

"Well, diving was one of the things where you could go on a ship and not be administrative so much. I wanted to do something that was challenging. In those days, women weren't allowed in combat," Hoff said.

Hoff said overcoming that adversity came with growth, and she eventually became second in command as an executive officer on the USS Paiute.

I asked Hoff, "What was it like during that time to be the only woman on a ship?"

"Well, again it was more about - I was the executive officer. So, you're so busy doing the work and trying to get the work done and that's all anybody ever really looks at," Hoff said.

When I asked Hoff if she had any words of wisdom for women or young girls pursuing their dreams in a male-dominated field, she quickly referred back to her dive team graduation celebration from nearly 40 years ago, and she said you can accomplish anything, you just have to be willing to get a little dirty.

"I was just thinking I made it, you know? This is great. This why I have both of my fists up in the air in the mud run," Hoff said.

Hoff says she still responds to calls to help animals across the area, and she's glad more people are getting involved to help.