Walton County recently gained its first corrections officer named as the Florida Sheriff's Association Corrections Officer of the Year.
With around a year and a half of experience working at the Walton County Jail, Walton resident Thomas Corbett credited his faith, dedication and colleagues for his achievement.
"It feels good on one part to know that I have made an impact on somebody else's life, but at the same time, I feel like it's our job," Corbett said, and added it's always been a dream of his to work in law enforcement.
He said that throughout the 67 counties in Florida, a corrections officer was nominated from each for the award most go their whole career without.
Requirements for nomination included being put in a situation where a life was saved and making an outstanding effort at your position, Corbett said.
While at a restaurant in Chipley, Corbett saved a young boy from choking. His deeds extended to an Alabama shooting where as a bystander, he and a National Guardsman provided CPR and medical help to a victim until paramedics arrived.
"I've known Thomas for almost 20 years, he's a good guy," said Capt. John Moring, operation bureau chief at the jail. "He would have done it at any time."
Moring said it was humbling for someone within their unit to have received the prestigious award, and that he was glad Corbett's training stuck with him.
"When we go through the training, you're emphasizing ... job-related issues, and to know he took a step above that and provided a public service (is awesome)," Moring said.
However, Corbett — who graduated from Ponce de Leon High School, enlisted in the Army shortly after and spent six months deployed in Saudi Arabia — said things haven't always run as smooth as they are now.
At the end of 2016, he was fired from his job of 10 years in marketing. To bounce back, he said he vowed to himself nothing similar would happen again. He started his own home inspection business in 2017 — TCOR Consulting Group — and at almost the same time he began working as a corrections officer.
"I'm a believer in Christ, and I feel like everything happens according to God's plan," he said. "I've seen it in my own life."
Looking ahead, Corbett said he plans to "move to the roadside" and work as a law enforcement officer while also continuing to grow TCOR.
When asked when he gets the time to sleep, he replied "you catch it whenever you can."
"I know not everybody's going to believe the way I do, and I don't expect anybody to," Corbett said. "I don't try to force my opinions on anyone, but I hope I live a life that reflects a lot of goodness and hope that maybe they see the way I live my life that maybe there is something bigger and better and beyond."