“Thank you for your military service in the name of freedom and democracy. We owe you an immense debt of gratitude.” The Aventura Marketing Council/ Chamber of Commerce November breakfast meeting hosted by Memorial Healthcare System featured a tribute to members of the military and special address by Colonel Eric LeFevre, Strategic Plans Officer, Florida National Guard.
AMC Chair Gary Pyott of Association 1st, joined by Memorial Regional South CEO Doug Zaren and Aurelio Fernandez, President and CEO of Memorial Healthcare System, welcomed service members, veterans and their families gathered with hundreds of business and community leaders at Turnberry Isle Miami. The inspiring program commenced with recognition of the Krop Sr. High NJ-ROTC; presentation of colors by the Charger Battalion, ROTC cadets of North Miami Beach Sr. High; and “God Bless America” sung by Wesley W. Wray, one of the AMC’s talented Young Stars from their Aventura Mall YOUNG STARS SHOWCASE presented by Mount Sinai Medical Center and AT&T.
Special appreciation was expressed to Florida Army National Guard and Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) leaders including Peter Caspari, Rebecca Heinl, Col. Cindy Harkrider and Sgt. Major James Root as well as Janette Chandler, Family Readiness Support, 841st Engineer Battalion. Their work helps encourage support for the mission of ESGR: “Working to ensure returning heroes have the ability to earn a living – giving them their livelihoods and lives back after they’ve defended ours.” Employers can register on the website floridaesgr.com and pledge to give preferential hiring to returning National Guard and Reserve veterans.
Kristy Nevils, Federal Business Coach for veterans, was also on hand to share information about programs giving active military and veterans the opportunity to do business with the federal government.
For efforts to support the military, Memorial Healthcare System has received a Seven Seals Award presented by the Department of Defense for “Meritorious leadership and initiative in support of the men and women who serve America in the National Guard and Reserve.”
Zaren, also a veteran, noted Memorial Healthcare System encompasses over 2,000 physicians, six hospitals, including Memorial Regional South and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. “I’m very proud of our Memorial Rehabilitation Institute,” he said. “We’re attaining great outcomes for complex cases such as traumatic brain injuries, and will now be teaching and training resident physicians.” He also explained that at the Rehabilitation Institute, members of the military who have suffered loss of limbs are receiving state-of-the-art prosthetics, in many cases enabling them to return to the athleticism they once had.
AMC members proceeded to salute the illustrious 32-year military career of Colonel LeFevre, a leader in air defense artillery and regiment commander, training soldiers on military, occupational and leadership skills. He synchronized the Guard’s response to the terrorism events of 9-11; has been a counter-drug coordinator; and participated in almost every major disaster response in Florida since 1992.
LeFevre explained the Florida National Guard, 20 major military installations and the defense industry combined generate a $79 billion annual economic impact across the state and support 775,000 jobs. He also noted, “Florida is one of the highest per capita recruitment states for our military.
“It never ceases to amaze me the things I see our soldiers accomplish with their energy, ingenuity and drive to succeed. They have hundreds of professional skills that directly translate to the private sector. They also have the skills of leadership and teamwork, are mission-focused, reliable and loyal. The American workforce is certainly strengthened by the hard work of our veterans.”
In a closing salute to the magnitude of military service, LeFevre shared the words of General Douglas MacArthur: “However horrible the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and give his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind.”