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    Combat Veteran Recognized as SUBLANT Civilian of the Year

    SUBLANT Civilian of the Year

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Sarah E Horne | NORFOLK, Va. (April 12, 2019) – Darin Sweet, the Submarine Force Atlantic Civilian...... read more read more

    NORFOLK, VA, UNITED STATES

    04.15.2019

    Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sarah E Horne 

    Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic

    NORFOLK, Va. (April 2, 2019) – Every civilian that could make it to the meeting squeezed into the headquarters conference room at Submarine Force Atlantic, March 21. The subdued lighting and hushed conversations made it seem more like a parlor when the high-tech conference microphones and screens were hidden by the many observers.
    In the corner by the door, was the strangest body in the room. An old, black lab named Tess laid on the floor hidden beneath the chair of the man that everyone had gathered to appreciate. Darrin Sweet, a combat operations Army veteran of 26 years, had recently been selected as Civilian of the Year for SUBLANT because of his outstanding positive influence on the Submarine Force. He was presented with a Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award as a show of gratitude by his leadership.
    “Anyone dealing with travel, like temporary duty, comes through me,” Sweet said.
    As succinct as he may be, Sweet’s answer hardly describes the painstaking tasks he actively pursues while working as the Defense Travel Administrator (DTA) for the entire Atlantic submarine fleet. As the DTA, he works in a program called Defense Travel System (DTS) that assists Sailors and DoD civilians in coordinating travel and managing pay required for a Navy business trip.
    When Sailors or DoD civilians arrive at SUBLANT, they occasionally have some kind of pay discrepancy that has gone unnoticed for months or sometimes years. Sweet ensures these discrepancies are resolved immediately, a task which sometimes requires hours and hours of sifting through digital copies of paperwork from years prior.
    “During check-in, we check for anything that’s open and sometimes no one keeps track of that stuff,” Sweet said. “You might have to go through a hundred vouchers just to find out where that five hundred dollars came from.”
    Whether someone owes money or is owed money, Sweet finds a solution even faster than he can find the problem. Sweet does not just check the vouchers that come across his desk either. He oversees and trains other DoD personnel to check their reports in a new way, to find discrepancies faster and easier.
    He tells them, “When someone checks in, see if they have anything open that was never paid out and when they’re out-processing, make sure there isn’t anything due to them."
    Sweet said he wants every traveler to have a positive DTS experience and learn something new every time they travel, so everyone can learn to work together and make the job that much easier. He also hopes that DoD members will share what they learn and help educate as many people as possible.
    “It really makes me happy when travelers have issues and I see them and I’m like, ‘Hey, you know, the government owes you,” Sweet said. Most of the folks who he helps come back to say thank you, which truly touches his heart and reminds him why he works as hard as he does to protect and serve his brothers and sisters.
    “The last thing I want is someone deployed and having a bill collector knocking on their door, whether it be their spouse or their parent, and saying ‘where is Jane or John, they owe us money,’” Sweet explained. “It distracts that Sailor from being able to do their job, and it can ultimately affect their security clearance.”
    Sweet is more than familiar with the struggles of a deployed military member since he served seven combat deployments, two of which as the commanding officer.
    “It’s rough,” Sweet said grimly, “My family being able to take care of the stuff around the house while I’ve been gone really helped, but I was gone almost the entire time for six years. I basically missed all of my son’s middle and high school years.”
    Sweet originally joined the Army in 1989 as an enlisted soldier as a way to figure out what he really wanted to do in life. He went straight into combat arms, arriving to his first command in July 1989 where he deployed to Panama for Operation Just Cause by November.
    He was constantly deployed to various operations from 1989 to 1994, including boots on the ground operations in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait, until he took a brief hiatus in military service to earn a Bachelor’s degree in computer information management and business management. When he returned to the military in 2001, he bounced between being active and reserve for 14 years. He was now a commissioned officer, a role he excelled in while also earning a Master’s degree in business management.
    “I always give one hundred percent,” Sweet said. “I’ve always had that mentality that if you’re going to do something, do it right.”
    Sweet must have seen the future, because it was his computer background that made him SUBLANT’s leading expert in DTS.
    “When DTS first came out in 2001,” Sweet said, “I got a little bit of training and then the rest of it was ‘Okay, here’s the manual, read it.’” At the time, he was a network engineer for Dow Corning Inc. and assigned to the Army Reserves, but already had a little computer background, making the program relatively easy for him. He quickly became the go-to guy at his command.
    It took not one, but two combat-related injuries for Sweet to finally retire after 26 years of service.
    “I didn’t want to stop, I would have kept going but they medically separated me,” Despite Sweet’s setback, he continued serving his country.
    “Just having the opportunity to serve my country is what I’m most proud of,” Sweet said. “That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to come back as a civilian, so I can try to help provide support and provide my past experience and knowledge to help teach the junior folks.”
    With Tess, his service dog, backing him up, Sweet started the next chapter in his life, working for the Army as a civilian DTA for 11 years before eventually transferring to the Navy.
    “It’s really been a great opportunity,” Sweet said. “I was really happy that the Navy wanted to take the chance and take someone like me from the Army. I was glad they offered it to me and I’m really glad that I took it because the command here is such a great environment.”
    Sweet mentioned that he had just spent the morning getting ready to celebrate one of his coworkers’ birthday, demonstrating the uplifting environment in his office.
    “It’s more family oriented and a lot closer,” he said. “I really can’t say enough about the environment here and the personnel that I work for. They have all been great to work for and their leadership guidance has taught me a lot about how the Navy operates and I love it.”
    One thing is for sure, the feeling is mutual.
    “Our civilian of the year is competitively chosen,” said Don Hoffer, Executive Director. “To be selected after only two years demonstrated the remarkable job Darrin does for the Submarine Force. He’s a wonderful addition to our amazing cadre of civilians that keep things running behind the scenes in the Submarine Force.”
    With his wife and Tess standing next to him, Sweet received a medal for his meritorious civilian service award during the award ceremony as he has so many other times throughout his exceptionally long term of service.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 04.15.2019
    Date Posted: 04.15.2019 11:25
    Story ID: 318133
    Location: NORFOLK, VA, US 

    Web Views: 88
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