SWLA Veterans Association Welcomes You
For Veterans, By Veterans
With this initiative, our goal is to promote great opportunities for those in need. With access to the right resources, people can become empowered by their own abilities and gain the confidence to fulfill their potential. Learn more about our work by getting in touch with our team today.
Annual Veterans Day BBQ
With our organization’s mission always in mind, we strive to find new strategies for dealing with this challenge. Food Donation Drop-Off is something that we take very seriously, and our team is working each and every day to make a positive impact. Contact us to learn more about our commitment to this cause.
Annual Golf Tournament Fundraiser
This golf tournament provides funding for our association for the entire year. We are ask the community to join us for the day at the golf course which will help us with associated costs while helping raise money for future events to benefit our veterans. Our goal is to make this annual event that will fund our mission for the year. This fundraiser will help fund our annual BBq on Veterans Day, help us continue to be charitable to other veteran organizations, provide direct help to those in our community, and will also provide food and entertainment for a picnic on Memorial Day. We ask that you please invite all veterans along with their spouse or significant other, and join us for this fun and exciting event.
About Us and Our Mission:
Southwest Louisiana Veterans Association is a non-profit organization founded in 2015 by Bubba Viator. The association is operated by local veterans of the United States Armed Forces. Upholding our motto “For Veterans, By Veterans,” our mission is to provide a social and charitable community for veterans that cultivates camaraderie and fellowship while assisting with the various challenges that today’s veterans may face, such as workforce placement and integration into civilian life.
What We Do:
This all started in 2015 with a Veterans Day BBQ and the vision of Bubba. He wanted to have a BBQ where it would be free for all veterans and would give everyone a chance to heal from the traumas of PTSD and let people know they were not alone. That BBQ has grown into an association with close to 500 veterans and a six-member Board of Directors. In 2019 we had over 250 veterans participate in our Veterans Day BBQ in which they were able to eat, receive a t-shirt, koozies, hats, patches, enjoy live music, and had chances to win 25 raffle items that were donated.
With everything we do starting to grow and gain momentum, we are tasked with asking our community for their commitment to help us with raising money for associated administrative costs, future events to benefit our veterans, job training courses, time-of-need help, transportation to appointments, Veterans Day BBQ, monthly socials, and helping other non-profit veteran organizations that we partner with. Some of the non-profit organizations we support are City of Refuge, a homeless shelter for veterans, in Vinton, La. We have helped a local film director and veteran Justin Roberts raise awareness for veteran mental health due to PTSD. Our board members serve as the point of contact for other organizations that need help or want to partner with us for events. The American Legion post in Lake Charles and Kinder has used our group to help get volunteers to accomplish community service projects. We have a line of communication with the Lake Charles City Mayor Nic Hunter, Calcasieu Parish District Attorney Stephen Dwight, along with local law enforcement agencies and parish government.
By providing a space for veterans to relax and network with each other, it has opened up opportunities for some with employment, legal help, VA assistance, doctor referrals, mental health checks, rehab and treatment facility support, and also and most importantly, gives a sense of belonging.
We could not do this without the support of our community and citizens. All donations directly impact the lives of the veterans in our association.
Board of Directors
President: Bubba Viator
Vice President: David Soileau
Treasurer: John Mekins
Event Planner: Marcus Louis
Outreach Coordinator: Allen Cormier Jr
Outreach Coordinator/Website Design: Tonya Leis
Founding Member: Michael McAnulty
US NAVY Navigator
Founder/President of SWLA Veterans Association
Bubba Viator served 6 years in the Navy stationed in San Diego where he deployed 2 times to Central and South America part of SOUTHCOM conducting counter narcotics, assisted in helo flight operations and many humanitarian missions. Upon completion of sea duty, Bubba re-enlisted he finally got selected to Coastal Riverine Squadron 4 and became small boat Navigator deploying 8 months to 5th fleet.
As founder of SWLA Veterans BBQ and SWLA Veterans Association, Bubba saw a passion for helping mostly post-911 veterans back in SWLA and quickly started with the annual BBQs which lead to the forming of the team/committee we have today to continue his mission from day one. “For Veterans by Veterans”.
United States Marine Corps 2009-2021
David is a local entrepreneur in Lake Charles. He is the cofounder of the Gophr App and co-owner of Integrity Homes. He spent 12 years of service in the United States Marine Corps.
David currently serves as a Ward 3 Reserve Deputy Marshal. He earned his Masters Degree in Business Administration specializing in Technology Management. He enjoys spending time with his wife and four children and leading worship at Cornerstone Community Church.
US Navy 1987 - 2007
John retired as Machinist Mate First Class Served in the US Navy Submarine Force for 20 years. During my career I served aboard six different nuclear submarines. My sea time afforded me the opportunity to cross the equator three times and enter the arctic circle four times including surfacing through ice at the North Pole once. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, but lived majority of childhood in Olympia, Washington. After retiring from the Navy, moved to Grand Haven, Michigan. Later relocated to Moss Bluff. After retiring from the Navy, I utilized my GI Bill to complete my bachelor’s degree in Occupational Health and Safety in 2011. I am currently employed with Entergy at the Nelson Power Station as a Senior Safety Specialist. Along with working at Entergy, I coached Sam Houston High School soccer from 2016 - 2020. I now fill my spare time as a reserve deputy sheriff with Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office. My wife Mary and I have known each other since elementary school, and we have been married since 1998. We have two children Faith and Chris, both of whom have joined and currently serve in the Louisiana Army National Guard
Allen Cormier Jr
United States Marine Corps
Allen served as a Marine Corps Musician. Allen has earned a Masters in Criminal Justice from McNeese State University and a Masters in Homeland Security and Emergency Management from Arizona State University. He is currently a Detective for the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office. A personal mission for Allen is developing future leaders through coaching, teaching, and mentoring, while creating an environment where professionals are strategic, prepared for crisis, forward thinkers, and experts in their field. After experiencing the stress and aftermath of Hurricanes Laura and Delta in 2020, he has focused on continually developing the personal and professional skills to create a culture of resiliency at the personal, familial, and community level for first responders and veterans.
In 2007, Allen met his wife, Michaella, and in 2012 they were married. They currently have 2 children and are expecting their 3rd in March 2023.
United States Marine Corps
Tonya Leis joined the Marine Corps in 2005. She was raised in Dodge City, KS.
Her first duty station was Okinawa, Japan where she worked in the 3RD MLG G-1 unit. Her next duty station was San Diego, CA then Beaufort, SC.
Upon the end of her contract she moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana where she is now a Category Space Manager for Southwest Beverage Company.
United States Marine Corps
Infantry Tow Gunner
1st Marine Division Tow Plt.
Operation Iraqi Freedom (Ar Ramadi) 2004-2005
Bachelor Degree in Agricultural Science. McNeese State.
Lead operator for Hilcorp Energy Company.
One of the founding members of SWLA Veterans Organization.
Honor and Celebrate Our Nation’s Heroes
Carry The Load is a non-profit organization that provides an active way to connect Americans to the sacrifices made daily by our military, veterans, first responders and their families.
What started in 2011 as a mission to restore the true meaning of Memorial Day has now grown to honoring our nation's heroes 365 days a year.
No Greater Love Movie
"Chaplain Justin David Roberts served 6 years active duty as an Army Chaplain. Before he left the Army in 2015, he discovered that he was struggling with depression and PTSD. Wondering what kind of father he would be if he didn't face his issues, he sets out on a journey to meet up with members of his old unit. Along the way, they recall their hellish deployment. In total, 17 soldiers were killed in action (KIA) and over 200 were wounded during the deployment. Almost all of the men that were lost died while either trying to save someone or protect others. The common thread in every one of these stories of valor is love.
No Greater Love layers the footage Chaplain Roberts shot on missions in Afghanistan, with heartfelt interviews of men he served with and Gold Star family members. Through these stories, the soldiers that deployed with No Slack are finding healing and purpose after combat."
We do our best to give back to those that have served.
City of Refuge
Southwest Louisiana Veterans Home
River Clean Up
Three Beards Band
No Greater Love Movie
Annual Veterans Day BBQ
Memorial Day Celebration
Three Beards are a Texas alternative rock band formed by Hank Barbe, a combat vet featured in a TIME Magazine article for a lifesaving mission in Iraq in 2003 titled "Anatomy of a Medevac". Hank started playing music as an outlet to help cope with some of the symptoms of PTSD and created a new career where he could channel his energy. "Lessons Learned" has gained attention from fans, movie producers and other bands, covering the inner thoughts of a soldier struggling with PTSD and suicide. The band are putting out new music monthly as well as a new full length album soon and playing constantly.