GEICO honors six Service Members with Military Service Awards

Washington, D.C., May 14, 2021–GEICO honored six members of the U.S. military with its 2020 GEICO Military Service Awards, which recognize service members for their leadership and devoted service addressing health and safety issues in their local and military communities.

Each recipient has made significant contributions to their fellow citizens by creating safer environments in one of three areas: Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention; Fire Safety and Fire Prevention; or Traffic Safety and Accident Prevention.

"Many of the nation's enlisted service members go above and beyond the call of duty, volunteering their time to support the public good," said Jay Snead, director of GEICO's military assistance. "We are extremely proud to honor those distinctive volunteers each year."

The 2020 GEICO Military Service Award recipients are:

United States Army Master Sgt. Johann Georg Herzog–Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention

MSG Herzog is assigned to Virginia Tech AROTC, U.S. Army Cadet Command, Blacksburg, Virginia.

Dedicated to Substance Abuse Awareness and Prevention, MSG Herzog provided instruction to more than 3,200 U.S. Army soldiers ranging from privates to lieutenant colonels. He taught classes tailored to helping leaders identify drug and alcohol dependency within their units, mitigating existing issues and preventing future occurrences. His efforts raised awareness in soldiers and leaders and introduced the skills necessary to combat potential drug reliance issues, saving the Army over $350,000 in estimated cost for loss of duty time and possible treatments.

MSG Herzog also volunteers his expertise to teach addictive habit mitigation among adolescents. Herzog provided the practical foundation of lowering high-risk behaviors and preventing the negative life impact that unhealthy habits can have on our nation's youth.

United States Marine Corps. Staff Sgt. Beau A. RamosSubstance and Alcohol Abuse Prevention

Staff Sht. Ramos is assigned to Marine Corps Detachment Keesler Air Force Base as a formal school instructor on substance abuse control. During that time, Staff Sgt. Ramos provides substance abuse and alcohol prevention training.

Additionally, he liaises with Keesler's Alcohol/Drug Prevention and Treatment (ADAPT) Clinic, ensuring all personnel receive the necessary immediate treatment and aftercare.

In his off time, Staff Sgt. Ramos is a volunteer coach for Ocean Springs Sports Programs. He coaches and mentors over 30 high school and 22 youth athletes on the importance of mental and physical fitness and the effects of certain performance substances and drugs on the human body.

Staff Sgt. Ramos continues to be a youth coach and focused on creating a positive outlet for young adults and alternatives that prevent drug and alcohol misuse for future generations.

United States Navy Petty Officer First Class Todd D. VerhagenFire Safety and Fire Prevention

Petty Officer First Class Todd Verhagen is assigned to Naval Submarine Support Facility New London Groton, Connecticut. As the leading petty officer for the Dive Locker's Diving Team Three, PO1 Verhagen is responsible for providing hyperbaric fire safety, fire detection, prevention and suppression on-board naval vessels, and general firefighting capabilities for sailors.

In his off time, PO1 Verhagen actively participates in his community, devoting more than 200 hours to the Lisbon Volunteer Fire Company. He's responded to more than 125 call-outs and serves as a team member, emergency vehicle operator and team leader.

PO1 Verhagen provides training to citizens at local hardware stores on the importance and use of smoke detectors and fire extinguishers and other home fire safety measures several weekends throughout the year.

United States Air Force Staff Sgt. Kayla RobertsFire Safety and Fire Prevention

As an inspector devoted to the safety of others, Staff Sgt. Roberts worked tirelessly to complete 139 annual building inspections last year despite a loss in staffing.

Her commitment to the "What Right Looks Like" program was paramount in correcting 85 fire safety deficiencies and directly improving the work environment and safety for 9,000 Air Force members. In one example, Staff Sgt. Roberts identified a complete fire alarm system failure during a $2 million renovation project and guided nine engineers through the repair to restore the club's operation, preserving 12 annual events and nine squadrons' quality of life.

Additionally, Staff Sgt. Roberts organized several fire safety exhibits and demonstrations at two local schools to galvanize the wing's Fire Prevention Week campaign. The ingenuity behind her creative efforts ultimately helped the initiative reach and educate 12,000 personnel.

Holding a special place in her heart for local youth in the community, Staff Sgt. Roberts is an avid mentor for the city's Big Brothers Big Sisters program, in which she has taught 36 hours of life safety and skills. Her presence as a role model inspired and improved the horizon of 10 "at-risk" teens.

United States Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jamison M. Smith–Fire Safety and Fire Prevention

Assigned to U.S. Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet, CPO Smith oversees all fire safety/prevention programs for North Carolina's Outer Banks' motor lifeboat station. As the unit safety coordinator, he identified significant safety concerns with the aging fire detection system and spearheaded a project to correct them.

While off-duty, CPO Smith serves as a member of the Hatteras Volunteer Fire Department and has devoted more than 300 hours to responding to over 100 assistance calls and numerous training events since 2017.

Recently part of a four-person team and first on-scene at an early morning residential fire involving both Coast Guard and community members' homes, CPO Smith valiantly combated the fire throughout the morning to save life and property. The team battled the extreme smoke, fire and zero-visibility conditions.

CPO Smith also volunteers annually during fire prevention week at Cape Hatteras Elementary School, sharing his fire safety expertise and demonstrating the proper use of fire equipment. He has served as a volunteer firefighter at previous assignments since 2014.

United States Army National Guard Master Sgt. Donald W. HortonFire Safety and Fire Prevention

Assigned to 142D Military Police Brigade, Decatur, Alabama, MSG Horton is in charge of the brigade's human resources section. He oversees personnel actions for approximately 1,100 soldiers and also serves as brigade safety non-commissioned officer.

A two-time recipient of the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, MSG Horton continues to go above and beyond expectations, volunteering more than 2,900 hours as the deputy fire chief and secretary of the board of directors of an all-volunteer fire department in 2020. With more than 20 certifications, he teaches statewide training courses educating civilians and first responders.

His safety initiative led to procuring more than $80,000 in grants to implement state-of-the-art personal protective equipment and laundering equipment to reduce the risk of cancer among firefighters, as well as procuring smoke alarms for low-income households.

If you know a service member who should be nominated for the GEICO Military Service Award, each unit, base, post or activity may submit eligible enlisted members according to its particular service's established procedures. Nominees should exhibit noteworthy contributions or accomplishments while serving on active duty or in the reserves/national guard in one of the fields recognized by the GEICO Military Service Awards.

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