by Ryan Labadens, US Navy Public Affairs

Sometimes a friendly smile and timely assistance is all a person needs to brighten their day. That’s what Brittany Harper, a civilian contractor working as a DEERS and RAPIDS personnel assistant at Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, tries to provide for her customers at NCBC every day.

Originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, Harper had her first experience with the military through her mother, who served for 30 years between the active-duty Army and the Air National Guard. Harper moved down to Mississippi with her mother in 2001 when she got a full-time job here.

Harper herself decided to join the Air National Guard in 2014, where she serves now in administration at the Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) in Gulfport as a part of the 172nd Air Wing.

Admin was a career field Harper said she always knew she wanted to work in.

“I wanted to do more – I wanted to be more helpful. I have a passion about helping people, getting their needs taken care of, and with admin you’re really involved in that more,” said Harper. “With admin, you’re really taking care of first-hand issues for people that need to be taken care of fast, such as pay, orders and other personal information that needs to be accurate and updated.”

It’s that same passion for wanting to take care of people’s needs that she applies to her position at NCBC Gulfport.

“In my position I should be an amalgam of information. Whatever question you come to me with, I should be able to provide you information on who to go to, what information or documents you need to have, who can I send you to, and how can I get you the answer you’re looking for or get done what you need accomplished,” said Harper.

At her position at Gulfport, Harper provides services such as making ID cards, updating personnel and dependent information in RAPIDS (Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification System) and DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System), and helping people resolve issues with their orders and training.

Because of the personal nature of much of the information she handles for people, Harper said she tries to put a personal touch on each interaction she has with each customer.

“I’m going to spend my time on you as long as I can to get what you need done,” said Harper. “While you’re in my space, I just want you to feel at home, like you’re appreciated and that your needs are being taken care of.”

This personal attention has been felt by her customers during her time there, like retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Arcuri.

“From what I’ve gathered talking to others about my experience, the NCBC RAPIDS office has a reputation for being fast and low hassle far above and beyond the average, and my experience has mirrored that. I can see now why even people stationed at other locations will go out of their way to go to this one when receiving or renewing ID’s. Thank you to Ms. Brittany Harper for getting me my CAC [common access card] in no time at all,” said Arcuri.

Along with her fellow workers, Harper hopes to continue to provide the kind of dedicated service to her customers that she knows she herself would like to receive were she in their shoes, especially in a COVID-19 environment.

“With our office personally, we’ve really kept it a well-oiled machine during all of this,” said Harper, concluding with how she hoped people would feel leaving her office. “I would want somebody to leave feeling refreshed – especially if they’ve been having a bad day – like you’ve got something accomplished, you trust that it’s done right, and you feel better and can pass that good feeling on to others,” said Harper.

Military personnel, dependents, retirees and other eligible patrons can contact the NCBC Gulfport Personnel Support Detachment at 228-871-2331 for assistance with ID cards and other personnel-related issues.