ARLINGTON, Va. -- Army Spc. Odailys Matos was the recipient of the 2018 GEICO Military Service Award at a ceremony in Rosslyn, Virginia, Apr. 29.
Matos, who is assigned to 1st Battalion, Special Troops Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, was one of five U.S. military service members the insurance company recognized for their community service. She was selected for her work in the area of fire safety and fire prevention as well as for her volunteer efforts and community service.
Every year since 1988, GEICO selects an enlisted service member from each branch of the military, including Reserve and National Guard, for achievements in any one of three areas: fire safety and fire prevention, drug and alcohol abuse prevention, and traffic safety and accident prevention.
Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4, Lt. Gen. Aundre Piggee and Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Daily presented Matos her award.
"Specialist Matos is a very special Soldier who embodies the Warrior Ethos in everything she does," Dailey said. "When you're a young Soldier, you generally run from responsibility; but this young specialist grabbed ahold of it. She represents what we expect from our Soldiers -- seeking responsibility and taking charge."
Matos frequently volunteers her time as a unit designated driver at her home duty station at Fort Riley, Kansas. She volunteered to take the Fire Warden's Safety Course and, with limited guidance and direction, and working well beyond her rank and experience, oversaw her unit's fire safety program with outstanding results, according to her unit.
"The safety program is important to me because without it there would be more Soldier injuries that would take them away from the fight," Matos explained. "We need safety programs to ensure all of our brothers and sisters in arms are able to deploy, be ready for the fight and then make it home to their families."
Lt. Col. Julia Wilson, special troops battalion commander, said when Matos arrived at the battalion, she "hit the ground running."
"She quickly came to embody the Army Values and made a substantial impact upon the safety and wellbeing of her peers, her unit and Fort Riley," Wilson added.
In addition to receiving a $2,500 honorarium from the GEICO Philanthropic Foundation, the ceremony capped a week's worth of events in the Washington, D.C., area for Matos and the other five service members from the Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines and National Guard. The recipients visited the Pentagon, the United States Marine Corps War Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery, where they laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
"Winning this award shows me that sometimes hard work doesn't go unseen," Matos said. "I couldn't be any more grateful for having the leaders who guided me and nominated me for this award."
Matos was born in Cuba and immigrated to Miami with her family when she was a child. Upon high school graduation, she joined the Army after being inspired by her cousin who served in the Marine Corps. She aspires to become an Army warrant officer and pursue a bachelor's degree in psychology.