When I “joined” Boat4Vets, it was nothing more than an idea of Founder Mike Shawl. We would laugh and say “we don’t know what we’re doing, but nobody else knows that”. We quickly gained support and developed a core group of volunteers. Mike and I quickly realized that this was not a one and done deal, but an annual tradition, which was his goal. We created a Board of Directors and gained 501(c)(3) status making Mike the CEO and I became President.
As Mike’s health declined, I became CEO with Dave becoming President. “It takes a village” or in this case “a boating community and love for veterans” to make things look effortless. It’s not. I thank each board member, chapter commander, and their numerous volunteers for helping me say “THANK YOU VETS!!!”.
I was born and raised in the Blue Water area and have worked in many Michigan communities as a retail manager for over 25 years. I have many friends and family that proudly served their country and was always looking for a way to give back. I started out as a sponsor and volunteer for Boat4Vets in 2009 for the Lake St. Clair Chapter. I volunteered for that chapter until 2014 when my wife Joanne and I decided to start the Blue Water Chapter in Port Huron and became the Commander there. With the help of my wife, children and good friend George Stafford we were able to grow the Blue Water Chapter to serving over 400 people at our event. I was fortunate to be the Commander of that chapter until 2019 when I was elected to serve as President of Boat4Vets. Our organization does amazing things for our Veterans and I look forward to serving them faithfully for many years to come.
This organization was started by my father, Mike, back in 2010 with the first event held on Harsens Island. Even in the early days, these were great events that were so popular that they led to the opening of new chapters in Port Huron and Lake Fenton. In May 2014, he asked me to assume the duties of Treasurer and Board Member – after seeing how much the local Veteran community loved these events, how could I say no? I still currently serve in those roles.
I’m a Veteran of the US Navy like my father before me, and I also have family members who have served in the Marine Corps, Army, and Air Force. Strong military blood runs through my veins, and it has always been my mission to do what I can for as many Veterans as possible. This group lets me do just that.
Been with Boat4Vets since day one.
Commander Forrest Walker
Lake St. Clair Chapter
Forrest is an Army Veteran who has been boating on Lake St. Clair for many years and was previously a boat captain with us. In 2015, he became the commander of the Lake St. Clair Chapter. Being the commander of this chapter is only Forrest’s most recent foray into giving back to the community. His history of volunteering and giving includes involvement in the “Big Brother, Big Sister” program and the “Knights of Columbus”. With Forrest at the helm, this chapter has grown its event and has taken on more officers to help handle parts of both the fundraiser and the boating events.
If you have any questions about this chapter or the events please reach out to Forrest via phone or email.
Cmdr Forrest Walker
Phone: (810) 512-4660
Commander Christopher Miller
Lake Fenton Chapter
Christopher is a Navy Veteran who has served 7 years, sharing duties on board the USS Enterprise and in Special Warfare. While being able to visit 29 countries he has always thought that there is no place like home back here in the United States of America. Christopher continues to serve his community as a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service. His first contact with Boat4vets was as a Veteran guest in 2019. Now Christopher is looking forward to leading the Lake Fenton Chapter to a bigger and brighter future for many years to come. His number one goal is to thank his brothers and sisters in uniform for their service to this great nation with a wonderful day out and a boat ride with friends and family. If you have questions about this chapter or the event, please reach out to Christopher at: Boat4VetsLakeFenton@gmail.com or 248-884-1442.
Commander George Stafford
Commander George is an Army Veteran and a founding member of the Blue Water Chapter. George graduated high school in the Blue Water area before serving in the US Army from 1993 until 1996. He continued his service in the National Guard from 1996 until 2000. He is professional chef and real estate agent while also giving back to the community as a Food Service Manager for The Council on Aging of St Clair County (Meals on Wheels) for 10 years. George’s involvement with Boat4Vets began with Lake St. Clair Chapter during their second year when he volunteered in conjunction with his then employer Best Buy.
Been with Boat4Vets since day one.
Lifetime resident of the Blue Water area who has been involved in many charitable programs in the area along with her husband and children. I became an active volunteer and in my husbands words “his right hand gal” when we took on the challenge of starting the Blue Water Chapter of Boat4Vets. I was honored to be accepted as a Trustee this past January and look forward to serving Boat4Vets and our Veterans for many years to come.
Former director of housekeeping for Palace Sports and Entertainment and the Detroit Pistons
Currently pastor at New Hudson United Methodist Church
Lives in South Lyon