Board Members - Got Your 6 Fishing
Got Your 6 Fishing helps veterans and active duty military find physical and emotional healing through recreation and provides opportunities for them to share their stories.
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Board & Advisors

Let’s Go Find Your Fish!

Fishing Rod

As the Got Your 6 Fishing board and advisory members, we strive to serve those who have bravely served their country. We combine our unique talents and find ways to keep getting veterans and active duty military out fishing 365. If you’d like to support our mission, please make a donation today.

Ryan Caldwell President GY6F
Ryan Caldwell
Army Staff Sergeant (RET)
Founder and President

Founder and President, Staff Sergeant Ryan Caldwell (RET) was raised in Olympia, Washington before joining the Army in 1992. Over the next thirteen years, he served our country through multiple deployments including Mogadishu Somalia (1993), the invasion of Haiti (1995) and in Bosnia (1997 / 1999).

In 2004 he deployed again to Iraq where his team was attacked by a suicide car bomber while on patrol. Ryan was awarded Purple Heart for the injuries he sustained. This incident along with multiple other combat-related injuries resulted in a medical retirement in 2005.

Shifting from able-bodied warrior to wounded veteran was a difficult transition and the first several years Ryan struggled to cope, became angry and even suicidal at times. Although he had been a long time outdoorsman and fishing enthusiast, Ryan had lost his hunger and passion to plan his own adventures.

In the midst of his darkest days he was invited on a fly-fishing event for veterans in Montana. This trip rekindled his passion for the serenity found on the water and helped him begin to emerge from his depression and leave suicidal thoughts in his wake.

Ryan has used this experience to develop Got Your 6 Fishing, an organization dedicated to helping fellow veterans use this hobby as an avenue for physical and emotional healing.

Erin McMicheal Secretary GY6F Board
Erin McMicheal
Secretary

Born and raised in Washington, Erin has always had a love for the outdoors and animals. She enjoys hiking, fishing and camping often doing these with her dogs or horses. Sometimes she even lets her husband and their teenage son tag along.

During a 14-year career as a 911 dispatcher, Erin developed post-traumatic stress and a passion for helping others cope with this affliction. She discovered an equine therapy group working with active duty military and veterans and instantly knew she had to get involved. When Ryan Caldwell was placed in one of her classes the first thing she noticed was, despite his own suffering, he was constantly building others up. He became a huge asset to the organization and the two remained friends after he completed the program. 

When Erin learned how much of his own personal money Ryan was spending to take other veterans fishing, it was only natural for her to help start the paperwork process and fundraising efforts to make Got Your 6 Fishing an official non-profit.

Brian Hackethal GY6F Board Treasurer
Brian Hackethal
Treasurer

Brian has been an avid fisherman his entire life. What he lacks in ability to catch fish he makes up with the willingness to learn.

He joined Got Your 6 Fishing because he fully believes that peace can be found floating down river hunting the next big catch. There is a healing energy that happens in nature when two human beings take the time to listen.  Brian has found his center while out in the boat fishing and he’s positive that others can feel the same.

It is important to Brian to give back to those vets who gave so much to our country. By floating down river, swapping stories, and listening to nature, he helps vets find their center at Got your 6 Fishing.

Kristin-Gustin-GY6Fishing-Fundraising-Director
Kristin Gustin
Fundraising Director

Raised in Eastern WA, Kristin always had a love for the outdoors and for helping others. She started volunteering at a local animal shelter at a young age, then moved onto joining the Key Club in high school. After graduating while working for her family’s sign and apparel company, she was the Chapter President for the Richland Jaycees for 3 years.

Kristin joined A.C.E.S. (American Citizens Encouraging Support) where she was involved with sending care packages to active duty military along with helping to organize welcome home and send off ceremonies.

Her husband’s job led them to move to Western Washington in 2014. Shortly after the move, she met Ryan Caldwell and became more familiar with Got Your 6 Fishing while working at her current marketing position.

She had heard of all the good Ryan and his team were doing for the local military community. Being the daughter of an Air Force Mechanic and the daughter-in-law of an Air Force X-ray Technician and Aunt to a Marine, she knew right away she wanted to support in any way that she could.

Veteran Jimmy Benedict holds fish at a river
Jimmy Benedict
Board Member

Board Member Jimmy Benedict grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

At the age of 22, he joined the Army and moved to Seattle, Washington. He served eight years with 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) and has participated in many overseas missions to include Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jimmy grew up hunting and fishing in the South and fell in love with the outdoors. He learned at an early age that a frosty morning sitting in the tree stand or a warm day on the river brought a peace that was hard to find elsewhere. Now he wants to share this passion and serenity with his fellow veterans so they can find their balance point in the transition to civilian life.

Jimmy lives in Tacoma, Washington and can’t wait to get veterans on the water with Got Your 6 Fishing.

Jeff Mason
Fishing and Rod Building
Advisory Member

Jeff Mason started FISH’N TRIPS FOR HEROES in 2012. He grew up on the banks of the Skookumchuck River in Centralia, Washington fishing since he was 5 years old.

Waters fished include the Columbia, Cowlitz, Wynoochee, Satsop, Humptulips, Chehalis, and a variety of lakes.

Jeff Mason has spearheaded the organization of the rod building portion of Gy6.

Brandon Henning GY6F Advisor
Brandon Henning
Rod Building Instructor
Advisory Member

Brandon Henning, a Florida native, joined the Florida Army National Guard in 2000 then active Army in 2004. He deployed to a combat zone five times in his 15 years of service. Brandon was medically retired in 2015 due to combat related injuries.

Throughout his life fishing has been an enjoyable activity for Brandon. After retirement from the military, it became more than an occasional hobby as he found solace, comradery, and healing from unhealthy coping habits. In late 2015 Brandon started guiding with Heros On The Water through which he had the opportunity to attend a rod building class.

He enjoys working with veteran-focused groups to share his knowledge, experience, passions, and to spread the healing qualities of fishing, kayaking, and rod building. Helping others through tough times with ways he has found helped him in a positive and constructive manner is what drives him to continue this mission.