“Service to Soldiers” is more than just the motto of the U.S. Army Financial Management Command; it’s a way of life for many of the command’s employees.
One such employee, Mark Sullivan, USAFMCOM Army Financial Services senior financial manager, was recently awarded the Joseph P. Cribbins Medal from the Association of the U.S. Army for living out this motto in nearly every aspect of his life.
“Mark has an outstanding record as a Department of the Army civilian, and equally outstanding record with the AUSA in supporting Soldiers and serving his local community,” said Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Doug Gibbens, AUSA Region Two president. “On top of that, I find Mark to be extremely selfless.
“He does not seek recognition, and he’s practically bashful talking about himself,” Gibbens continued. “It’s very much a selfless service to country and to the community.”
“I don’t do this job for recognition,” explained Sullivan. “I’m an under-the-radar kind of guy, but to get recognized at the national level is a great honor.”
Established in 2008, the medal is presented by the AUSA annually to only one Army civilian in recognition of their exemplary service to the Army, the AUSA and their local community.
“Both on and off the job, Mark really cares,” said Eric Reid, USAFMCOM Military Pay Operations director and Sullivan’s former boss who nominated him for the award. “He cares about doing the right thing for the Army, for Soldiers and his community.”
“My mom and dad always taught me we need to give back to the community,” said Sullivan. “That’s how they brought me up, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
His father, an Army veteran who served during World War II and during the Korean War, recently passed away at the age of 95 but worked until his final days serving his community in his nursing home’s library.
“He instilled the value of service in all his six children,” said Sullivan, who has a sister and brother who also served in the Army.
Sullivan is the second AFS employee to be awarded the medal in three years. Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse “JT” Sablan, AFS Army Travel Policy and Defense Travel System Management and Oversight Program Manager, won the medal in 2018.
“That’s why I hired a lot of these retired CSMs and sergeants major – they’ve dedicated their lives to taking care of Soldiers,” said Reid. “JT and Mark sit side-by-side, and they feed on each other working to support our Soldiers and veterans.”
“I think that USAFMCOM has won nationally two of three years and regionally the last three years says a lot for the caliber of employees that join the USAFMCOM team,” said Gibbens. “It also shows that USAFCOM leadership really cares about their people.
“There’s mentorship and encouragement for their civilian employees to get involved with the community and find other ways to support Soldiers.”
Sullivan, who began his civil service career after retiring as a command sergeant major with 23 years of active-duty service, currently supports the planning and execution of military pay actions supporting contingency operations, develops Army-wide policies and procedures, and coordinates with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and various organizations within the Army.
He also helps ensure wounded soldiers assigned to Warrior Transition Units receive the correct pay and entitlements and is regularly tapped as a subject-matter expert on finance issues by senior leaders inside and outside of the Army.
Sullivan recently developed a four-day course for human resources professionals across the Army on the new Integrated Personal and Pay System, or IPPS-A, teaching the training pilot class at four installations to validate the course material.
Outside of his assigned duties, Reid said Sullivan goes above and beyond to support his coworkers through various service and outreach programs.
“His wife is Korean, so he’s very involved in diversity and inclusion events like the Asian American Heritage month,” said Reid.
According to the AUSA, Sullivan is no stranger to the organization having served as treasurer and secretary of the Korea chapter from 2009 to 2016. During that time, he organized cross-country runs and fitness challenges in the local community, free movie nights at the Post Exchange theater and delivered free pizza to soldiers during the holidays.
After his assignment to USAFMCOM, Sullivan engaged with the AUSA Indiana chapter, eventually serving as the chapter’s secretary, organizing its annual golf outing and soldier and NCO breakfast, where he was able to secure several Sergeants Major of the Army as keynote speakers.
He also coordinated the chapter’s drive to collect clothes and food for homeless veterans in the area and organized a care package effort, which sent more than 800 care packages to troops deployed overseas.
Building leadership in the area’s youth, Sullivan also works with Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps students, helping facilitate their drill and ceremony programs.
Outside of this service with USAFMCOM and AUSA, Sullivan also finds time to serve his local community.
He organized a Christmas gift drive for Soldiers and their families and works on the weekends during the fall and spring to build and maintain the Pennsy Trail in central Indiana.
Sullivan also recently volunteered to help reconstruct a local women’s recovery house in Greenfield, Indiana. Working for nearly three years, he tore down and built walls, replaced electrical lines, and repainted the entire home, which serves women with addiction issues.
Putting his finance and comptroller skills to work in the community, he also serves on his local church’s finance committee, accounting for their annual funding and budget requirements.
He also serves each week as a lector and usher at the church and volunteers to serve at the church’s school, working in the cafeteria during lunch and on the grounds crew in the afternoon.
“While serving on the Finance Committee, his attention to detail and financial knowledge has helped keep our parish fiscally responsible,” said the Rev. Aaron Jenkins, St. Michael Catholic Church’s pastor, “He also tirelessly donates his time and financial resources by helping with landscaping around the campus, reading Scripture during mass, and volunteering in our parish school.
“We are grateful for his dedication and faithfulness.”
While Sullivan has been resolute in his service, not everyone is sure how he finds the time and energy.
“It’s amazing,” said Reid. “I wouldn’t have the energy to do all those things he does outside work while doing all the great work he does as a DA civilian.”
“I have this fear if I slow down, I’ll just keel over and die,” Sullivan joked. “(Former President) Lyndon Johnson, died only a few years after leaving federal service, and I don’t want to be like LBJ.”
While he appreciates the accolades, Sullivan concluded his remarks as many would expect, with a humble attitude and focus on others.
“The stuff I do, it’s all teamwork – I don’t do anything by myself in the chapter, at church or at work,” he concluded. “I’m just a very small part of the whole puzzle.”
(Editor’s note: Facts assembled from Sullivan’s award nomination packet provided by the AUSA, which contributed to this article.)