1SG Daila Espeut-Jones - US Army (Retired) - Orlando, FL

​First Sergeant Espeut-Jones served in the United States Army from 1982 until 2004. First Sergeant Espeut-Jones’ intense interest in military and community affairs is reflected in her service as President of the Association of the United States Army Sunshine Chapter (“AUSA”).  In that role, she co-hosted monthly networking socials with community partners, hosted the Army Birthday Ball, hosted an annual Military Appreciation Night (where elected officials, military personnel and business owners have the opportunity to meet and learn from each other) and arranged a diverse group of speakers to address the Chapter on topics of interest.  She works closely with military units stationed in the central Florida region, recently attending the change of command ceremony for the 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).  Through her years of service in AUSA, she’s developed meaningful relationships with industry leaders as well, including Brigadier General Michael E. Slone, former Program Executive Officer for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation in Orlando, Florida.   

As a member of VFW Post 4287 and Semper Fidelis of America, she has helped plan and host an annual benefit for a multiple amputee soldier, marine, sailor or airman.  As part of her service in Semper Fidelis of America and Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club Orlando, she visits the shut-in at the Orlando VA Community Living Center for bingo, football games, Thanksgiving and other occasions.  Ms. Espeut-Jones serves on the City of Orlando and Orange County Mayor’s Veterans Advisory Councils and organizes the annual Veterans Day Parade, Memorial Day Commemoration, and Gold Star Mother’s Day.  In that role, she maintains indispensable relationships with local elected officials.   

In addition to the organizations mentioned above, First Sergeant Espeut-Jones is an active member of Women in Defense Central Florida, Kappa Epsilon Psi Military Sorority, Inc., National Defense Industrial Association, and the American Legion.  Her work in these organizations and the people that she has met along the way allows her to tell the veteran’s story.  She disseminates information and advocates on behalf of active duty service members, veterans and their families on local TV newscasts and Veterans Corner, a local radio show she founded and co-hosts that spotlights the military and veterans.     

Her community outreach includes assisting Westgate Resort with coordinating the annual Military Appreciation Weekend, founding a quarterly Young Professionals social at the University of Central Florida, and organizing and performing a Vietnam Pinning ceremony in honor of the Vietnam 50th Commemoration.  In addition to her work with adults, she regularly mentors members of the Jones High School JRTOC program.  She exposes many young people to the possibility of service in the military.

First Sergeant Espeut-Jones is dedicated to our community and truly loves the Army. She is an inspiring role model and the ideal candidate to build bridges in the local community and tell the Army’s story. Her life experiences, including retiring as a combat veteran after 22 years in the Army, uniquely allows her to relate to soldiers and civilians and inspire the next generation to be all they can be.

Before writing this letter, I reviewed the criteria for selection and First Sergeant Espeut-Jones excels in every way. Her outstanding character, integrity and patriotism is always on display. From the first moment you meet First Sergeant Espeut-Jones you have no doubt that she loves the Army and all veterans. Her passion, drive and dedication is reflected in the myriad of roles she fills.

I’ve had the pleasure of introducing First Sergeant Espeut-Jones to many of my fellow judges. On each occasion, she has positively affected their attitude toward the Army in particular and veterans in general. No person can walk away from First Sergeant Espeut-Jones without a deeper appreciation for the military’s mission, she genuinely bridges the gap between the military and civilian communities.

While I’ve addressed First Sergeant Espeut-Jones’ considerable qualifications for induction into the Hall of Fame, I also want to share a personal story that goes to the heart of her character. My family recently suffered a terrible tragedy. She was in Yuma, Arizona for work when it occurred. She dropped everything, got a flight and was at my side in my darkest hour. This really sums up my friend. She gives everything she does, including being a friend, 110% effort, all the time.

In closing, I reiterate my most sincere belief that First Sergeant Espeut-Jones is uniquely qualified for induction into the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame. First Sergeant Espeut-Jones has devoted her time since retiring from the Army to serve veterans of all branches. Her significant contribution to the state of Florida should be recognized and I strongly encourage you to select her for induction into the Veterans’ Hall of Fame. Thank you.

Education and Training Accomplishments:

  • High School: Hyde Park High School, 1982
  • US Army Basic Combat Training, 1982
  • US Army Primary Leadership Development Course, 1986
  • US Army Basic Non-Commissioned Officers Course, 1987
  • US Army Advanced Non-Commissioned Officers Course, 1993
  • US Army Battle Staff Course, 1996
  • US Army Korean Language Proficiency Course, 1996
  • US Army Commanders and First Sergeants Course, 1997
  • BS Degree Human Resources: Strayer University, 2011, Magna cum Laude
  • MS Degree Human Resources: Strayer University, 2014, Summa cum Laude
  • American Red Cross Volunteer Program, 2019
  • USO Volunteer Program, 2020

Professional or Employment History;

  • US Army, 1982 – 2004, Private to First Sergeant
  • Department of Defense, 2004 – 2005, Deputy Plans Chief in Hanau, Germany
  • Department of Defense, 2005-2006, Booking Chief in Manama, Bahrain
  • UNITECH, 2007 – 2009, Program Manager, Orlando, Florida
  • DynCorp, 2010, Transportation Supervisor, Kandahar, Afghanistan
  • ITT Systems, 2010-2012, Logistics Manager, Kandahar, Afghanistan
  • ZELTECH, 2012-2016, Program Manager, Orlando, Florida
  • OST Global, 2018-2019, Production Control Subject Matter Expert, Orlando, Florida,
  • ZELTECH, 2019 – Present, Program Manager, Orlando, Florida

Advocacy of Behalf of Veterans and Civic Activities and Contributions:

Gary Sinise Foundation:
April 2020 – Present

  • Florida Chapter Advisory Board member

Association of the United States Army (AUSA):
July 2001 – Present

  • Currently serving as Chapter President overseeing 1500 individual members and 86

Community Partners (1 July 2018 – 30 June 2020)

  • Previously served as Chapter’s Executive Vice President, Vice President Programs, Vice President Operations, and Non-Commissioned Officer of Enlisted Affairs
  • Co-host/Host Central Florida’s largest Army Birthday Ball since 2012 to present
  • Host AUSA Sunshine Chapter quarterly General Membership Meetings and luncheon with military and government personnel
  • Coordinates and host the yearly Flamingo Party to raise funds greater than $25K for charity organizations that supports veterans
  • Coordinates/co-host annual Armed Forces Appreciation Day with Navy League, Air Force Association and Marine Corps League in Central Florida
  • Co-hosted annual Combined Professional Associations Group (CPAG) Defense Forum Breakfast January 2020 with Commander of Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (US Army) and other industry partners
  • Performs community services with different organizations
  • Serves as a partner for Vietnam Veterans Commemoration Foundation: Travel (on my dime) throughout Central Florida and conduct pining ceremonies with and for veterans that have not received recognition since program started in 2012
  • Assist veterans to find employment through Career One source and other County benefits programs
  • Assist veterans and their families connect with Orlando VA and other veterans services
  • Assist active service members and their families assigned to the local units connect with community partners and county officials
  • Assists Westgate Resorts each year during Military Appreciation Weekend host 1300 military personnel and their families in Orlando
  • April 2019 launched the only monthly radio show for veterans and about veterans in Central Florida
  • December 2019 participated in an 11.5 hours ride along with an Orange County Sheriff Deputy

Orange County Mayor’s Veterans Advisory Council
March 2012 – Present

  • November 2018 sworn in by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings as Chair of council (First female/African American to hold position)
  • Over the years performed volunteer duties as follows:
    – Assisted with writing the county’s veterans council bylaws
    – Identify veterans who are shut-ins and assist with providing needed care
    – Assist in planning City of Orlando’s annual Veterans Day Parade
    – Attends/participates in veterans round tables with Congressional and other political representatives; met with Congressman Darren Soto in July 2019 and Senator Rick Scott in Jan 2020 to discuss veterans issues
    – Conducts recognition/commemoration ceremonies with County Mayor: Memorial Day, Gold Star Mother’s Day, and Veterans Day
    – Participates in City and County Veterans Stand-Down: This annual event offers housing, services, and hospitality to homeless veterans; Services includes medical care, showers, meals, shelter, mental health services and counseling
    – Single-handedly/periodically walk the streets in Downtown Orlando at nights identifying homeless veterans and connecting them with the VA Healthcare and benefits system; donates toiletries in pint size Ziploc bags filled with miniature size items to homeless veterans in need

Buffalo Soldier Motorcycle Club – Orlando
October 2015 – Present

  • Active member
  • Rides a 2013 Can Am Spyder motorcycle
  • Support the Chapter by promoting the Buffalo Soldiers history in the community, attending chapter meetings, church services, conducting community services, parades, raise funds for scholarships and donating the monies to underprivileged high school seniors
  • Attends and support annual and frontier meetings throughout the country

Semper Fidelis of America
October 2015 – Present

  • Attends monthly meetings
  • Perform community services with veterans at Lake Nona VA Community Living Center (this require sitting and talking with veterans, feed them, and play board games)
  • On a yearly basis locate veterans in dire need of financial assistance and assist Orlando Rocks organization to raise funds for the selected veteran (over the years each veteran selected received ($15-20K) to use for things like home repair, upgrades required due to physical disability, pay off overdue debts, etc.

Kappa Epsilon Psi Military Sorority, Inc.
June 2016 – Present

  • Assigned to Tampa Chapter
  • Attends monthly meetings
  • Performs community services (required at minimum 10 hours per quarter) with different military organizations, pick up trash on highway, sort food items at 2nd Harvest Food Bank, perform volunteer duties at USO and Red Cross.
  • Conduct chapter recruitment opportunities and mentor female service members past and present

Retiree Appreciation Council
March 2019 – Present

  • Serve as one of three Orlando representatives
  • Assist with hosting Retirement Appreciation Day in Feb of each year in Orlando

Women in Defense (WID) – Central Florida
May 2013 – Present

  • Active member
  • Previously served as Director of Programs

National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA)
May 2013 – Present • Active member
Veterans of Foreign War (VFW)
2004 – Present

  • Active Life Time member

July 2001 – Present

  • Provides mentorship at several schools in Orlando
  • Eagle’s Nest Elementary School, Teacher for a Day – November 2019
  • Jones and Evans High Schools
  • Single-handedly collects school supplies (via Dollar Tree) in the Summer months and donate to elementary and high school students
  • Serves as the only female mentor at Orange County Veterans Treatment Court (assist veterans to keep up with their appointments at the VA medical facility, mental health and court dates
  • Provide personal counseling and positive influence as needed
  • Provide public speaking at schools, churches, and private organizations
  • Serves as panel member at several military and community functions in Central Florida
  • April 2019, launched the only radio show for veterans and about veterans in Central Florida – Veterans Comer (on my dime)
  • Broadcast on Orlando’s AM 1680, WOKB Radio, every 4th Saturday of each month, 6- 7pm
  • 20 December 2019, participated in an 11.5 hours (2pm -1:30 am) ride along with an Orange County Sheriff Deputy

Awards or Honors:

  • Legion of Merit
  • Bronze Star
  • Army Achievement Medal
  • Army Accommodation Medal
  • Meritorious Service Medal
  • Humanitarian Service Medal
  • Global War on Terrorism Expedition Medal
  • Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
  • Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Korea Defense Service Medal
  • Featured on FOX 35, 2015
  • Honoree – Orlando Business Journal Veterans of Influence, 2015 
  • Florida Governor’s Veterans Service Award, 2015
  • Association of the US Army 3rd Region Award of Excellence, 2016
  • Honorary Teacher Eagle’s Nest Elementary Orlando, 2019
  • Launched Veterans Corner Radio Show, 2019
  • Women’s History Month Feature on WKMG in Orlando, 2019
  • Women’s History Month Feature on STAR 94.5 in Orlando, 2019
  • US Senator Rick Scott Recognition of Service Certificate, 2020
  • Featured on WKMG Veterans Voice in Orlando, 2020
  • Board Member – City of Orlando Mayor’s Veterans Advisory Council, 2012-2019
  • Mentor, Veterans Treatment Court, 2016 – Present
  • President of Association of the US Army (AUSA) Sunshine Chapter, 2018 – Present
  • Chair, Orange County Mayor’s Veterans Advisory Council, 2018 – Present
  • Board Member – Gary Sinise Foundation Central Florida, 2020 – Present
  • Honoree – Congressional Record Proceedings and Debates of the 116th Congress, Second Session House of Representative, 2020
  • Active Member of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club
  • Active Member of Kappa Epsilon Psi Military Sorority, Inc.
  • Active Member of VFW Post 4287 and Semper Fidelis of America
  • Mentor – Jones High School, 2015 -2018
  • Mentor – Evans High School, 2017 – Present
  • Inductee – Library of Congress Veterans History Project, 2018