On a beautiful, California day in November 2021, two professional fishing boats embarked through the waters around San Diego for the first annual Warrior for Peace Foundation Ocean Fishing Event. With nearly 100 veterans, family, and friends in attendance, the event went above and beyond to provide all veterans in attendance a day of peace and camaraderie.
At the heart of the Warrior for Peace Foundation are a band of Brothers from the Zeta-Pi chapter at San Diego State University. For over 35 years, Mike Hieshima, Stephen Guillot, Scott McLaughlin, Rich Vincent, Mark Jennings, Mike Smith, Kevin Rouse and Pete Lloyd have become more family than friends and have seen each other through the happy times and the most difficult times imaginable. But when push came to shove, they were always there for each other.
Inspired by one of their Brothers, also a Veteran, the men wanted to build an organization that could help other veterans who need support and assistance. The Brothers created what would become the Warrior for Peace Foundation (WFPF), a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. For these Brothers, philanthropy and giving back have been engrained in them from their undergraduate days in the Fraternity, but now it was time to truly make a difference.
“It really tied into the Brotherhood and tied into our desire to give back,” said Mike Hieshima, President, Warrior for Peace Foundation.
Led by WFPF’s Board of Directors, chapter Brothers from all over came together to not only honor their veteran Brothers, but veterans across the country. The first step was raising the money for the event and deciding what the day would look like.
For one of their veteran Brothers, fishing had always served as an escape and a way to return to nature. That got Hieshima and his fellow foundation members thinking, why not take an activity as simple as fishing and transform it into a day-long celebration of our nation’s heroes?
After much time devoted to fundraising, the Brothers raised over $60,000 dollars for the event. Following a morning of inspirational speeches, two world-class fishing boats set out for a friendly competition.
“The day yielded tons of fish, smiles, laughter, peace, as well as amazing stories of service and loyalty… much like those moments we share in our Brotherhood,” said Stephen Guillot.
The Warrior for Peace Foundation members concluded the day with a final surprise for the veterans, a welcoming committee and live band to commemorate a day full of joy.
“It’s a proud moment for us, because we have been friends for 35 plus years,” said Guillot. “Our kids are grown, and we want to invest back into our veterans and, in this case, in our communities.”
Because of the huge success of the first event, the members of Warrior for Peace are looking to double in size next year to reach even more participants. They also hope to see the event eventually be replicated across the country by other members of Lambda Chi.
But the true prize of the day for all the Brothers is the sense of peace they witnessed for each veteran and the outpouring of gratitude.
“Since then, I’ve already created great memories with my buddies as we put our new fishing sticks to use,” said one participant. “I still haven’t caught anything worthwhile, but I think the journey is a great catch already.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I can’t wait to see you all again at the next event. You’ve inspired me to never give up on life!”
From a simple desire to offer support and assistance to our beloved veterans to a state-of-the-art event, the Warrior for Peace Foundation is committed to create a community for those fighting for peace around the world and help veterans find inner peace every day, within their mind, body and soul.