Keynote speaker Major General Mike Coyne on Armed Forces Appreciation Day

Major General Mike Coyne
Retired USMC

The Armed Forces Appreciation Day is intended to give recognition to the individual military services in a collective fashion as opposed to the earlier practice of having a day set aside for each service. While it is certainly meaningful to have a day to show our appreciation for the Armed Forces; I believe that too few of our citizens have sufficient understanding of issues confronting our Armed Forces.  My reason for this belief will become clear in a few minutes.

We all know that our Armed Forces exist to protect our country and to preserve our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.  Most of us know the general make up our Armed Forces.  That is – the Armed Forces are made up of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and the Coast Guard.  Some, but not all of us, know that our Armed Force is called a Total Force because it is made up of an active component and a reserve component.

Currently we have an active force of 1.3 million and a reserve force of 800 thousand – This to protect a population of 327 million Americans.

This is about as far in to the weeds as I want to walk you this morning,with respect to the organizational structure of our Armed Forces.  It is more important for you to understand some of the real issues that today confront our current active armed forces – and thus our entire society.  These times are too critical for you to be able to fulfill your obligations of citizenship by just saying – “Thank you for your service”.

Just as our society has changed dramatically in the last fifty years, so has our military.  During the four years of WW Two, more than 11% of our nation served in uniform.  During the ten plus years of the Vietnam War,more than 4% of our nation served.  In the nearly 17 years since September 11,2001 only one half of one percent of our nation has served.

Consider some of the consequences this has had on our society – first on our political leadership:

  • In 1970 when nearly 14% of the population were veterans
    • 72% of the members of Congress were veterans
  • In 1991, a decade before 9-11, 11% of Americans were veterans
    • But by then only 48% of Congress were veterans
  • In 2010, just 8% of the population were veterans
    • But only 18% of the members of Congress were veterans

Of our last five Presidents, only two have served in the military, both as aviators – one in the active component during WW II and one in the Reserve component during Vietnam – and they were father and son.

Am I suggesting that one must have served in the military to be a good political leader?  Of course not!  Do I believe the lack of real, hands on exposure to the military experience by most of our Executive and Legislative leaders played a role in Congress’ bipartisan failure in 2011 to adopt a budget that adequately funded the military –a budget which led in turn to sequestration and the evisceration of our military funding?  You bet I do!!  … Where did this ignorance of the military come from?

In July of 1973 the draft was eliminated and the All-Volunteer Force came in to being.  This brought about an enormous change to the military force that I joined in 1959.  It is now clear there were unintended consequences for what was believed, at the time, by many military leaders, to be a good decision.  The motivation for the AVF was clearly political pandering to voters – and all too many in the military were compliant.  The consequences of the AVF have proven, at the very least, to be culturally challenging and economically disastrous or, in military terms, a FUBAR.

Many senior military leaders believed that the AVF would bring in highly motivated and even more highly qualified individuals as opposed to the increasingly reluctant and poorly motivated recruits of the later Vietnam years.  The passage of time has not supported their beliefs.

Even as a young officer I favored the draft, because I believed then – and believe today – that our society at large benefits from requiring military service for all healthy young men following on their graduation from high school or college. I had read sufficient military history to realize that many of our greatest military leaders did not plan to be career officers but became so by the force of circumstances – and these men happened to be graduates of our best colleges and universities who served because of the draft.

In my training company alone, at OCS in 1962, I trained alongside of graduates from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Georgetown, Holy Cross, Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke and other fine schools.  Many of them continued their military service until retirement – although the majority returned to civilian life, after their obligated service, and have been strong contributors to our society.  Today it is extremely rare to see the graduates of those schools joining the military and becoming officers.

The biggest change that AVF made, however, is to the overall composition of the force.  In 1973, before the commencement of the AVF – 2.5% of the active force was female.  By 2000, just before the World Trade Towers on 9-11, over 14% of the force was female.

To put those numbers in to a larger context, the total active force in 1973 totaled 2.3 Million and by 2000 it had been reduced to just 1.4 Million.  As you can see – when we were called upon unexpectedly to respond to an attack on our country – we had a force that was 39% smaller but which contained six times as many females.

Let me make clear I am not suggesting that women do not make good military members.  The point I am making is that – in those percentages- they do not provide the military with the balanced skill set we have historically depended upon for our military.

The force composition issues not only remain -they are worsening. Women who did not want their husbands going to Vietnam now want their granddaughters to be able to join the military and become generals and admirals.

Our military has become an equal opportunity employer which now offers workplace benefits surpassing our major corporations.  The military culture has become a kinder – gentler culture.  When I was a young lieutenant, a single woman who became pregnant in the military was immediately administratively discharged.  Today we are enlisting them and building housing and day care centers for them on our military bases.  There is a tolerance of differences and life styles in today’s military that would not be recognized by our past great military leaders.

So my concern remains.  Is it the role of the military to be an equal opportunity employer?  Or does the military’s role continue to be – to close with and destroy – up close and personal if need be – the enemies of our democracy?  There was no confusion about this in the Marine Corps I joined in 1959.  Today I am less certain.  There seems to be a Pollyannaish belief that the next war will be about whether my drone can beat your drone – and anybody can fly a drone.

Today our military is deployed in the Middle East and Africa opposing the forces of radical Islam as practiced by ISIS and Al Qaeda.  We have Korea flexing its nuclear muscle; and Iran stirring up problems in Syria and Palestine through its surrogates – while bidding time to develop its own nuclear capabilities.  We have NATO Treaty obligations being tested by Russia’s provocative actions in the Ukraine.  And if that is not enough, we have a newly aggressive China threatening maritime passage rights in the Pacific through the creation of artificial islands.

Is there any sane person who believes that now is the time to involve our military in social experimentation and equal opportunity causes?

Yes, we need to acknowledge our military services with gratitude today – but we need to demand of our elective leaders that they continue to provide us with military services that will be equal to or better than those we have depended upon in the past.  It is for these forces that I am today appreciative!!

Content provided by Major General Mike Coyne from a presentation offered at Avow’s Armed Forces Appreciation Day on May 18, 2018. 

David Lawrence Names Jessica Siefer Marketing and Communications Manager

Naples, Fl – David Lawrence Center (DLC), Collier County’s only comprehensive, not-for-profit mental health and addiction recovery treatment center serving children, adults and families, is pleased to announce that Jessica Siefer has been appointed Marketing and Communications Manager. Siefer has more than 10 years of experience as a writer, editor, and marketing and communications specialist in the finance and publishing industry.

Prior to joining David Lawrence Center, Siefer served as the Managing Editor for Siefer Consultants. In this capacity, she wrote, edited and published content for newsletters and manuals targeted to financial institutions, as well as designed promotional materials, managed website and social media content, and created advertising and e-mail campaigns. Prior to that, she was an Editorial Intern at Midwest Home magazine, where she pitched product feature content; interviewed, wrote and edited content about home and design specialists; and participated in photo shoots.

Siefer earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.  She is also a 200-hour certified yoga instructor, specializing in therapeutic yoga for mental and physical health.

Southwest Florida nonprofit David Lawrence Center is a national leader in providing world-class mental health and addiction recovery solutions for children, adolescents and adults. The Center’s innovative, integrated treatment includes inpatient, outpatient, residential, and community-based services – a comprehensive system of care funded by community and government support. Each year, David Lawrence Center creates life-changing wellness for more than 9,000 people through over 225,000 treatment sessions. To learn more, please call 239-455-8500 or visit

2019 Naples Winter Wine Festival Set To Bring “Joy to the World”

(May, 2018 – NAPLES, FL) Plans are already in motion for next year’s Naples Winter Wine Festival (NWWF), set for January 25-27, 2019, following a record-breaking year for the Festival which raised a total of more than $15.1 million, including a jaw-dropping $2.4 million for the annual Fund a Need. Jeannelle & Brian Brady and Linda & Tom Koehn, philanthropists and Trustees of the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF), founders of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, will take the helm of the upcoming event as the 2019 Co-Chairs and will be working year-round to ensure guests of the 2019 Festival will enjoy the best food, wine and auction lots around the world.

The Co-Chairs have unveiled the 2019 Festival theme as “Joy to the World.” The theme is a testament to the uplifting, year-round impact of the event, and the inspiration that NWWF brings to both attendees and the greater community. The Festival was recently recognized again for its contributions and named the “#1 Charity Wine Auction” in the U.S. by Wine Spectator for the 12th time.

Jeannelle & Brian Brady step into their roles as Co-Chairs after 7 years of involvement with the NCEF. Brian has served as President and CEO of Damon Corporation and Heartland Recreational Vehicles, served on the Board of Directors of St. Joseph Capital Bank and currently serves as a Director and Trustee of Lumeta Corporation. Jeannelle started her career as a chemist and now serves as Chair of the University of Notre Dame Performing Arts Council and as a Board Member of Premier Arts of Elkhart County, Indiana. The couple was recently honored by the dedication of the Brian & Jeannelle Brady Boys & Girls Club of Elkhart County. In their roles at NCEF, Jeannelle served on the Grant Committee from 2013 through 2017 and Brian has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2014.

Hailing from Des Moines, Iowa, Linda & Tom Koehn enter their roles as Co-Chairs after over 5 years of involvement with NCEF. Tom has been the owner and CEO of The Waldinger Corporation for the last 35 years. Linda taught high school students for 20 years, and then developed a second career as a community volunteer, being named a “Woman of Influence” by the Des Moines Business Record in 2005.  Linda currently serves as a Trustee of both Cornell College and Simpson College, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Des Moines Botanical Garden. Tom currently serves as a Trustee of the Des Moines Art Center. In 2015, Tom & Linda were honored as “Philanthropists of the Year” by the Central Iowa Association of Professional Fundraisers. Prior to being appointed Co-Chairs of NWWF, Linda served on the NCEF Grant Committee from 2013 through 2016 and Tom joined the NCEF Board of Directors in 2017.

“Next year’s Festival theme, ‘Joy to the World,’ is an homage to the spirit our community displays through the support of local organizations and initiatives benefiting the underprivileged kids in Collier County,” said Jeannelle & Brian Brady. “As preparations begin for the 2019 NWWF, we’re thrilled to continue the momentum from last year’s historic event and maintain our position as one of the country’s premier charity wine auctions.”

Since the event’s inception in 2001, the Festival has raised more than $176 million for its founding organization, NCEF, which has awarded grants to more than 45 non-profit organizations that have impacted the lives of over 200,000 children. Guests of the Festival will join in this charitable mission as they raise their paddles during the Festival’s famed live auction, part of a weekend that features celebrated names in food and wine from around the world.

Ticket packages for the 2019 NWWF will start at $12,500 per couple for a Double Magnum package and $30,000 for two couples for a Jeroboam package. For a full list of packages and additional details, please visit:

The Naples Children & Education Foundation, the founding organization of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, is improving the educational, emotional, and health outcomes of underprivileged and at-risk children. Through its annual grants and strategic initiatives, NCEF has impacted over 45 of the most effective nonprofits in the community, providing more than 200,000 children with the services and resources they need to excel. NCEF’s unique approach, which emphasizes collaboration between organizations and bridges public and private resources, has become a blueprint for how to transform a community, one issue at a time.


The Naples Winter Wine Festival, one of the world’s most prestigious charity wine auctions, offers a weekend of unforgettable memories. Guests enjoy world-class food and wine during intimate dinners in private homes, and are invited to bid on once-in-a-lifetime travel and wine experiences during an electrifying live auction. Since its inaugural event in 2001, the NWWF has raised more than $176 million, making a profound difference in the lives of thousands of children.

Find our latest updates on social media – NWWF and NCEF are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @NCEF_NWWF.

NCEF Shares Exciting News!

Naples Children & Education Foundation has shared that the Foundation has elected the new 2018 – 2019 Board of Directors which went  into effect on April 16thSandi Moran, Board Chair to the Board of Directors, will lead the Board of twelve, while working in tandem with new Grant Committee Chair Paul Hills and the Grant Committee comprised of eleven members. Twelve strategic initiatives advisors will work with several community based organizations to advance the Foundation’s collective impact work in the areas of Early Learning, Hunger, Out-of-School Time, Mental Health, Oral Health, College & Career Empowerment and Vision.

Paul Hills 

Paul Hills enters his role as Grant Committee Chair after much involvement with several prominent healthcare, children’s advocacy and community-related charities in Naples, Florida, Barrington Hills, Illinois and Washington, D.C. He is the co-founder of Sage Products, a successful health care medical device company and is currently the Chairman of Hills Capital Management. Paul and his wife Barbie along with his extended family find joy in giving back to their current communities and all share a wonderful passion for philanthropy.




Sandi Moran  

Sandi Moran steps into her new role as Chairman to the Board of Directors after serving as Vice-Chair of the Board in 2016 and 2017 and Co-Chair of the Festival in 2015 and 2016 with her husband Tom Moran. Passionate about the community and its children, most of Moran’s charitable endeavors involve partnering with organizations to meet children’s basic needs, including nurturing their academic success or promoting arts education. Sandi is a longtime supporter of many children’s and arts charities and is a founding patron of Opera Naples, the area’s first and only regional opera company. A fifth generation Floridian, Sandi has called Naples home for more than 30 years.