DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
The 7th Civil Engineer Squadron key spouse was awarded the Dyess Key Spouse of the Year for 2017.
Shari Stewart, 7th CES key spouse, received the award at the 2017 Annual Awards Banquet which recognizes individual Airmen and teams on their achievements during the year. Stewart is the wife of Master Sgt. Lynn Stewart, 7th CES operations engineering superintendent and mother of three children: Amaris, Xavier and Brianna.
Being a key spouse can be challenging and rewarding in many ways, from helping spouses during a deployment, to volunteering among the local communities. A key spouse is the connecting link between families and the military, and oftentimes having prior military experience can help when it comes to knowledge of the Air Force.
Stewart served in the Air Force for 17 years, with 10 years being spent in logistic readiness and seven years as an education and training manager. In 2016, Stewart was medically separated as a master sergeant after being diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Although living through the challenges of the disease, her duties as a wife, mother and key spouse have never come to a halt.
“The reason I became a key spouse is because I felt that I could help our civilian family members with my military knowledge,” Stewart said. “I advocate for them through different initiatives offered by the military for Air Force spouses and families.”
Stewart was nominated as the Dyess Key Spouse of the Year through Lt. Col. Shamekia Toliver, 7th CES commander, and then selected among several squadrons on base to receive the award.
“Shari has been a true asset to the spouses in the squadron,” Toliver said. “She always displays a positive character and is full of laughter - often highlighting the brighter side of any given situation.”
Though Stewart successfully fulfills her role as a key spouse, it did not come without trials and tribulations. The Stewarts’ three children were diagnosed with autism at a young age, with the spectrum ranging from high-functioning to severe.
“It was a struggle being military members and having children with special needs,” Stewart said. “It was my job to ensure they received the services they needed to be successful in their academics. This is the reason I am so passionate about making sure other parents who have special needs know they have resources available to them as a family, and to be that listening ear when they need to vent because I’ve been and still am in their shoes.”
Not only is she an advocate for special needs families, but she is a seasoned volunteer on base and in the Abilene community. Many of her volunteer hours go to local schools, food banks and Habitat for Humanity, which shows how flexible and determined she is in her goal of helping people.
“Mrs. Stewart epitomizes all that a commander wants in a key spouse,” Toliver said. “She is discrete, resourceful and has a sense of urgency when it comes to helping people. She dedicates much of her time to keeping spouses informed, getting them involved in squadron events, and she does this while taking care of her own household of 5, including 3 amazing special needs children.”
Stewart continuously goes above and beyond what is expected, which is why she received the 2017 Dyess Key Spouse of the Year. Since receiving the award, Stewart has continued providing the best support to the 7th CES and does not intend to falter in her duties to the Air Force and its families.
“Shari is a humble servant,” Toliver said. “Whenever she has been called upon for support, she has jumped at the opportunity to serve without failure. No matter the time of day or night, weekday or weekend, she has been there for our families.”