Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Dover Air Force Base
Number of Deployments: 0
Number of PCS's: 1
Share your military spouse story:
I met my husband in the fall of 2016. He always wanted to join the military but was afraid that talking about it when we were dating would “scare me off”. Within a year, I was preparing for a wedding, finishing college, and starting my first job. Then life threw me a curveball - I had a health scare. I had to undergo surgery to remove my thyroid. A few days later, my doctors told me that I had thyroid cancer. We were dealing with doctors and “what if’s” at a time when we should have been excited and overjoyed with our future. After a Thanksgiving filled with radiation and related restrictions, we began our life plan. I saw how unhappy my husband was in school; he finally shared his dream of joining the Air Force. We had been so busy with my health that it took a little bit of time to see what our path was really supposed to be. One day while out to lunch, I drove him to our local recruiter and told him I would support his dream 100%. Before we knew it, he was off to BMT and, in a blink of an eye, our family was driving 735 miles from Georgia to Delaware to settle in at our first duty station. Though I had always thought of myself as an extrovert, I found that being in a new place and not knowing anyone turned me into an introvert. I was trying to navigate a new place, a new home, and a new life style all at once. I knew I had to change my way of living before I was no longer happy. Determined to change, I set about starting a new adventure as a family in a new state, and I quickly started immersing myself in Dover to get involved and meet people. I wanted to build a foundation of friends that would turn into an extended family for our family. I joined the Key Spouse Program right as our squadron leadership was restarting the program after years of COVID shutdown and have enjoyed helping it grow to something that is far beyond what we expected when we started. We have spent only two years in this military life, but it has been the best experience.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
For the past year and a half, I have served as a Key Spouse for our squadron (the 436th OSS), which consists of over 230 Active Duty and civilian members and their families. Along with my fellow Key Spouses, I have helped with planning and executing multiple events for our squadron as well as for the 436th Operations Group of which our squadron is a part (along with two other squadrons). I have written and published our squadron newsletters, created flyers for events and information, and have been an advocate for our community by always lending a helping hand or a listening ear when needed.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
Since 2004, I have been involved with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. My contributions started from lemonade stands raising $100 to $200 to helping host golf tournaments, raising between $70,000 and $100,000. Since moving to Dover AFB, I have volunteered as a Key Spouse. I have helped arrange spouses’ coffee every Friday as well as Foodie Fridays each month. I put together a candle-making event with a local company. I also put together a fundraiser for our Key Spouse program at a local paint shop, our most profitable fundraiser to date. I attended multiple base-related events ranging from those held by our USO, to multiple events on base. I was coined by Col Husemann, the 436th Wing Commander, at a Heart Link event in June of 2022. I have served as an advocate for our housing community, by serving on an advice board for the Wing and Hunt Housing Community. I also write our squadron newsletter. This past year I was able to produce and distribute over thirty newsletters to our squadron.
Describe how you support your community:
I supported multiple families within our squadron, and outside of our squadron, by cooking meals for those who have had surgeries or babies this past year. I have collected moving supplies to help multiple families move into their new homes. Moreover, I have housesat for a family who had to leave with an emergency, provided fellow spouses with childcare while their spouses were deployed, and am always available for those who have questions or need advice. Finally, when I can’t answer a question myself, I enjoy reaching out to leadership or other resources until I find the right answer for the family or individual in need.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for those who support our military. I support the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, who have raised over $500 million to support our nation’s greatest heroes. With that money, Tunnel to Towers has paid off over 600 mortgages; and they have built smart homes for veterans and first responders needing specialized homes to enable independent living. I have partnered with the following companies to promote their work in support of military families: Operation in Touch, Blue Star Families, Crew Dogs, Milspouse Matters, Bravo Sierra, and Milsobox. I have partnered with three military authors to promote their books that help military spouses and children navigate through military life: Jen McDonald (You are not Alone: Encouragement for the Heart of a Military Spouse Devotional); Ryan & Kim Pease (It’s Time to Say Goodbye); and Becca Johnsey (When We Are Apart). I also work as a Millie Scout, a group which aims to help military families with any needs from moving, PCSing, and more.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I use the power of social media to reach people. I constantly share posts and stories on Instagram. These posts range from sharing what companies are promoting to, how a company or product can benefit your life and support the military community. I also share our own military life and how we overcome obstacles that the military life throws at us. I encourage other military spouses by commenting on their posts with encouraging words and sometimes funny stories. I enjoy showcasing small businesses, as I prefer to shop small. I am an advocate for Spouse-ly, a platform where military families can sell the items, they create for others to have in their homes and use or gift to others. I use my posts and stories to spread information regarding our military families with rises in BAH, Tricare information, more local Dover AFB related information, and outsourcing other programs that can benefit any need that may arise.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
The community that I can now call family has been there for me in more ways than I can count. I seek to love the people who once reached a hand out when I have needed support; with childcare, food, or even just a day out. Saying thank you is not enough; I want to do all I can to give back to the community who built me up. When I first arrived, I never would have imagined the impact I would have made on my community, the relationships I would create, and it was all because of my military family. This family is not just local, thanks to my platform I have created relationships with those all over the globe. This is what I want to give back to others - a friendship that no matter where you are stationed, you have someone as your advocate, mentor, and so much more. This is what I hope to accomplish.
Shelby is the best wife to my brother and mom to my niece and nephew! She fully supports my brother in everything he does!
- by Breahna Walker
Shelby goes above and beyond for her fellow military spouses by providing support, love and a place for community.
- by Lindsey Puckett
Shelby goes above and beyond to help her squadron and local spouses navigate events on base, she volunteers her time regularly and writes her squadrons newsletter to provide much needed information to the families in it
- by Dakota Bryan
Shelby is basically my sister in law, her stepsister is my partner. I’ve known Shelby since I was in elementary school. Not only do I think she should be nominated because she is an incredible mother & wife, I’ve seen Shelby do so much for our community growing up. She was apart of pageants where she put in countless hours of community service, which to her, seemed like everyday, to me I was in awe. She is truly the kindest, most selfless soul. To know her and love her, I am both lucky and proud. Shelby deserves this award because she doesn’t know what she does for her family or friends or random strangers on the street. She does what she does because she cares and loves harder than anyone I know. Her heart is huge, she’s hilarious & she deserves this more than anyone else I know. Please pick her! We love you Shelby!!
- by Madison Beene
Shelby is an Air Force wife and mother of 2 under the age of 3. She is a Key Spouse working hard to make her squadron a family. The best way to describe her is - a giver. She has helped work with over 20 squadron events (weekly and monthly), cooked for multiple families within her squadron and abroad, wrote over 40 newsletters for her squadron, and never stopped helping anyone who needed it all just THIS year. While doing this she is continuing her career in education by substitute teaching in their community, working through blogs to give information about small businesses and military life, supports fellow military families by promoting their books, businesses, and platforms. She also advocates for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. She balances the life of her own family and her military family. She even finds time to workout, explore her area, bake cookies, and attend base events and USO events with her family and friends! There is nothing she cannot or will not do.
- by Diane Jones
Shelby has gone above and beyond for so many people. When my husband and I had to have our daughter 3 weeks early she was the person we knew we could ask to watch our animals until family could get to town. She also made a post partum basket for another mom who isn't even in our sqaudron.
- by Lillian Johnson
Shelby is an exceptional person with a passion for helping others. She is always quick to help and will make time for anyone, even with her busy schedule. She is an active member of her squadrons key spouse group, leading numerous events and ensuring the squadron stays updated with base wide events via a bi-weekly newsletter. She is always one of the first to provide support, including meals, to airmen and their families facing illness, child birth, or other extraordinary circumstances. She constantly goes above and beyond that which is asked or expected of her, often times at the expense of her own time and money. She is an avid supporter of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, providing donations and participating in events. She is compassionate and empathetic, with many people looking to her as a confidant and someone to lean on. She is the most selfless and humble person I know, and her actions often go unnoticed. She is more than deserving of this recognition.
- by Prett Myers