MFSC employee celebrates 50 years of civil service

Le’Etta Garbett, Work and Family Life specialist at Military and Family Support Center, works with a Sailor during one of her “Smooth Move” classes that provide military service and family members a better understanding of the permanent change of station (PCS) process.

Story and photo by Blair Martin Gradel

Joint Base Pearl Harbor- Hickam Public Affairs

On Dec. 18, Le’Etta Garbett, Work and Family Life specialist at Military and Family Support Center (MFSC) will celebrate 50 years of service as a federal government employee.

“She is always willing to help her fellow employees and customers,” said her MFSC supervisor Wilhelmina “Mina” Cromartie. “She takes her job seriously in that she wants to ensure no customer walks away without getting what they need.”

The Hawaii native attributes her tenacity and professional longevity to following in the footsteps of her father, also a government employee who worked at Hickam Air Force base for more than 33 years.

“I wanted to follow my father’s wise judgment and footsteps!” she said. “I remember when he would come home smiling after a long day because he had accomplished something at work and could not wait to share it with all of us children.”

In 1967, Garbett began her civil service career as a 22-year-old voucher examiner at the Navy Regional Finance Center at Pearl Harbor. She quickly moved up the ranks to military pay clerk before moving to Navy Public Works Center Comptroller Office. In 1981, she began work as a management assistant at Family Service Center before finally moving to Fleet and Family Support Center in 1993, where she has spent more than two decades as a social service representative helping the military family community.

“All of these positions have placed me where I have always wanted to be—helping the military and their families and to teach and educate them on all that they needed to know to enjoy their military lifestyle and to grow within the military lifestyle and to use of their benefits and entitlements,” she said.

Garbett said that like many careers, hers has seen its share of peaks and valleys. From 1989 to 2002, she divorced and became a single mother to four children, one of whom needed to be home-schooled. On top of her full-time position, she also picked up additional part-time jobs (up to four at one point) in order to make ends meet.

“In those days, I had to work around-the-clock to make things happen,” she said. “But thanks to my parents who helped me feed my kids and a team of bosses who believed in me and gave me additional resources and support when I needed it, somehow…it all came together.”

With no plans of retiring any time soon, Garbett said she still hopes to continue to instill that same grace she has received along the way to others she may encounter in or out of her office.

“I just love that I live and work in a place where aloha is alive and well,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be a part of something where I could make a difference and [now] I feel that I have.”

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Category: News