GEICO honors U.S. servicemen and servicewomen at Military Service Awards

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 30, 2013GEICO honored six members of the military yesterday with the 2012 GEICO Military Service Award for taking part in generous acts of service to their communities.

Each branch of service combed through highly qualified candidates to select a representative that had made a significant impact on their local military and/or civilian community by donating their time, talent and knowledge to create a safer environment for their fellow citizens. The GEICO Military Service Awards, now in their 25th year, have recognized members of the U.S. military for their special achievements and contributions to the civilian and military community since 1988.

GEICO chairman Tony Nicely presented the Military Service Awards to the recipients at a special ceremony yesterday in Washington, D.C. "For 25 years now, GEICO has proudly recognized our country's servicemen and servicewomen who have made tremendous commitments to bettering their military and civilian communities," Nicely said. "We salute these honorees not only for their military service, but for dedicating their free time to improving the safety and well-being of others."

The 2012 GEICO Military Service Award recipients are:

United States Army

Sgt. Aaron M. Morris, assigned to the 557th Engineer Detachment of the 68th Engineer Company, Fort Hood, Texas, when nominated, was honored for his contributions to fire safety and fire prevention.

Sgt. Morris has been an Army Fire Department member for more than five years, responding to numerous wildfires, alarms, medical emergencies, traffic accidents and other emergency situations both for the Fort Hood Fire Department and while serving in Afghanistan. In addition to his exemplary job performance as a firefighter and his dedication to the Fort Hood Fire Department, Sgt. Morris spent his personal time conducting on-post fire inspections and assisted in the creation of standardized and comprehensive escape plans to ensure the safety of Fort Hood's soldiers and their families. He has assisted his fellow soldiers in achieving their International Fire Service Accreditation Congress certifications and has educated thousands of soldiers about the dangers of drinking and driving, fire prevention and other safety related threats.

United States Marines

Gunnery Sgt. Tina M. Kelly, staff noncommissioned officer in charge and chief instructor for the Air Defense Training Section "C," Charlie Company, Marine Corps Communication-Electronic School at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) in Twentynine Palms, Calif., was cited for her tireless work in traffic safety and accident prevention.

Recognizing the need for motorcycle safety training within her unit, Gunnery Sgt. Kelly developed a program in her off-duty time that became the blueprint for training adopted by units throughout the base. Her program trained dirt bike and ATV rider coaches and initiated race days that fostered the cross-sharing of safe riding techniques. Gunnery Sgt. Kelly expanded the program to involve the local community, bringing in the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department to provide safety briefings and oversight for riders. Her program has grown beyond the base and is now being emulated by units at bases throughout the west coast.

United States Navy

Chief Petty Officer Christopher Phillips, divisional leading Chief Petty Officer of Combat Missiles Division, Weapons Department of the USS Chafee (DDG-90), a destroyer home-ported in Honolulu, Hawaii, was recognized for his dedication to traffic safety and accident prevention.

Chief Phillips volunteered his off-duty time to conduct motorcycle safety briefings, facilitate new driver safety courses, enroll Chafee motorcycle riders in U.S. Navy and Department of Defense safe riding courses, conduct new motorcycle check rides and teach new motorcycle owners riding techniques and maintenance. He also organized motorcycle safe check rides on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, to educate new riders about safe driving techniques and local riding regulations. In addition, Chief Phillips coordinated new driver training courses for both car drivers and motorcycle riders under the age of 25 as well as reintroduction to driving sessions for sailors returning from Chafee's Western Pacific deployment.

United States Air Force

Tech Sgt. Cecilia Cardenas, assigned to the 81st Medical Group Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi when nominated, earned the recognition for her work in drug and alcohol abuse prevention.

Tech Sgt. Cardenas oversaw the Air Force Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention and Treatment (ADAPT) and Drug Demand Reduction (DDR) programs for Keesler Air Force Base. She played a vital role in implementing and leading weekly Drunk Busters and Peer to Peer education on underage drinking with new airmen. Her work in the program helped lead to a 28 percent decrease in driving under the influence and a 40 percent decrease in underage drinking for the 81st Training Wing, which is the second largest technical training wing in the Air Force.

As a result of Tech Sgt. Cardenas' work and impact on alcohol and drug abuse prevention, Keesler's program was chosen to participate in a congressionally mandated study of substance abuse treatment.

United States Coast Guard

Petty Officer Claude M. Morrissey, a helicopter rescue swimmer stationed at Air Station Kodiak in Alaska, was honored for his valuable work in drug and alcohol abuse prevention.

Petty Officer Morrissey serves as a ground safety equipment instructor, critical incident stress management counselor and command drug and alcohol representative at the air station, helping servicemen, servicewomen and members of the Kodiak community fight substance abuse, addiction and depression.

In his primary duty as a helicopter rescue swimmer he has saved several lives and was even featured on the Weather Channel's television program "Coast Guard Alaska." In his off-duty time, Petty Officer Morrissey serves as a volunteer firefighter and paramedic with the Women's Bay Fire Department.

National Guard/Reserves

Navy Reserve Petty Officer Ivy Martin, assigned to the Navy Region Midwest, Reserve Component Command in Great Lakes, Ill., was cited for her work in drug and alcohol abuse prevention.

Petty Officer Martin serves as a coordinator of Campaign Drug Free, a Navy volunteer program that helps educate schools, organizations and communities on the dangers of drug abuse. She led the effort to establish program coordinators at each of the Navy Operations Centers in the Midwest Region and assisted in the launching of local programs.

Since 2010 Petty Officer Martin has also worked with the Drug Education for Youth (DEFY) program, which teaches children of servicemen and servicewomen about drug and alcohol prevention, team-building and self-respect. In 2012 she helped coordinate and facilitate DEFY's annual summer camp at Volk Field Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin.

GEICO (Government Employees Insurance Company) is a member of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies and is the second-largest private passenger auto insurance company in the United States. GEICO, which was founded in 1936, provides millions of auto insurance quotes to U.S. drivers annually. The company is pleased to serve more than 14 million private passenger customers and insures more than 23 million vehicles (auto & cycle).

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