DOUGHERTY CO., GA (WALB) - WALB and Montlick and Associates would like to recognize the heroes among us.
Each month, we spotlight an active duty man or woman, a veteran, or a fallen hero whose service for our country goes beyond the battleground.
Lieutenant Colonel Latresa Steward is an executive officer in the Marine Depot Maintenance Command.
But her path to where she is now was nothing short of difficult.
As a single parent of two, she managed to make her way to the top of her game, with a determination that doesn't quit.
This powerhouse of a woman has a strength that's infectious.
One could say Latresa looks at her life as one big, intense workout.
"Nothing's easy," she said. "It's always going to be hard. And you have to figure out a way to get through it."
And Lieutenant Colonel Steward lives by that. With every obstacle, with every challenge, she's found a way.
"My son was not even a year old yet. I had started college, did about three years, was having a little financial difficulty, in a relationship, had a child, and had to figure out how I was going to take care of my son. So, I decided to go in the service," said Lt. Col. Steward.
Initially, she said she thought this was a four-year gig. She can get on her feet, get her college degree, and benefits. But that all changed.
"The Marine Corps recruiter was telling me how I would get to go overseas, and I would get to see the world, and I would get to take my son. So, that was it for me. I was like, 'Cool! I'll do that,'" she said.
She was going through a divorce, started juggling work, school, and the duties of being a new mother.
And she's the first to admit she needed help.
"Don't be afraid to say, 'Hey, I need some help.' My first few years, it was hard for me, but I met other single mothers in the service that saw me, snatched me up and said, 'Hey look, great you're a marine. You're hardcore and that's awesome. But you're human and you need to realize that. Because if you don't, you're going to set yourself to fail,'" she recalled.
She quickly learned stripping away your pride is one of the biggest strengths you can have.
After serving numerous roles in several states and countries, now, 21 years later, she's progressed to Lieutenant Colonel.
She is the executive officer to the commander of the Marine Depot Command.
The center is responsible for the repair and reset of all ground combat equipment used.
But possibly her biggest accomplishments are her two children Dawnye, 13, and Keion, 22.
Keion is following in his mother's footsteps. He's also a marine.
"I think every time he turned around and he saw me struggling, he saw this uniform helping out," said Steward.
She said without her marine family's support, she wouldn't have the strength to have made it this far in her career and in her life.
And whether she's kickboxing during her free time, or serving at MCLB, she has one message for those who may think their struggles are too big to overcome: learn from those obstacles and thrive.
"At the end of the day, no matter what I put on, I'm a human being, I'm not perfect, and there's always room to grow," she said. "And I'm always looking to do that."
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