“Nothing great can be accomplished without enthusiasm to keep your dreams alive in spite of problems”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Matthew Lowery’s life is a testament to service, from his upbringing in a military family to his distinguished 24-year career in the Navy. Born at Fort Sill Army Hospital in Lawton, Oklahoma, Matthew’s connection to the military was ingrained from the start. His father, a Navy Corpsman serving with a Marine unit in Vietnam, paved the path for Matthew’s eventual enlistment.

Reflecting on his journey, Matthew shares, “As a military brat, it was the only kind of life that I knew. We’d move from duty station to duty station every 2 to 3 years.”

Choosing the Navy

Matthew faced a pivotal decision between joining the Marines and the Navy. Ultimately, the Navy’s medical training opportunities drew him in. “Joining the Navy provided me with multiple benefits,” he explains. “It was an opportunity to gain the skills I desired while following in my father’s footsteps.” Graduating from Basic Military Training and Naval Hospital Corps Schools in San Diego, California, Matthew followed in his father’s footsteps.

“I signed up for the Navy in 1988 between my Junior and Senior year in high school. My dad served 26 years with 18 years alongside the Marines, and I served 24 years with 12 alongside the Marines. My dad finished his service as a Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman and I as a Chief Hospital Corpsman,” shares Matthew.

His years of military service provided Matthew with a litany of opportunities that he never would have had otherwise. “Being in the medical field, I like many others have seen my fair share of death. One thing that still haunts me to this day was my inability to save the life of a child while deployed under OIF,” shares Matthew. This incident firmed his desire to permanently serve others in one form or another. This desire is what fuels him to serve through Heroes on the Water (HOW).

A New Chapter of Healing

Matthew’s journey took a transformative turn when his wife introduced him to HOW. “My beautiful wife, Jackie, told me about Heroes on the Water,” he shares. “She informed me that she had seen something on Facebook about the organization and that I might want to look into it.” With both their boys, Christian and Caleb, in college and Matthew’s recent completion of a master’s degree program, he rediscovered his love for fishing and embraced the therapeutic nature of kayaking with HOW’s Brazos River Valley (BRV) chapter.

“Like many within the medical field, we yearn to serve others,” says Matthew. “A few years ago, Katie Fry, HOW-BRV Coordinator, asked me if I’d like to join the chapter’s leadership team. She asked me to take some time and think it over, but I already knew I had to join.”

Through HOW, Matthew found a renewed sense of purpose in reaching others who are silently hurting and connecting with fellow service members and first responders in meaningful ways.

“My wife would absolutely agree that I have significantly wound down since attending my first HOW event, and even more so after being called to serve within the BRV Chapter. I used to be a workout machine, especially prior to and during my military service. Just prior to my retirement, my body began to give out on me. My ability to work out helped me maintain a level of fitness that I was proud of, and helped me keep my stress, depression, or as others might say, demons at bay,” shares Matthew. “I’m not the easiest person to deal with, Jackie and I recently celebrated 34 years of marriage, so she can attest to that fact!”

Encouraging Others to Find Healing

Matthew’s advice to those suffering: “Stop thinking about it. Stop making excuses,” he urges. “Just come out to an event and give it a try. You’ll be amazed at what you find.” Matthew emphasizes the importance of reaching out for help and finding support within organizations like HOW.

“You my friend are not alone!” he declares. “Whether it’s through HOW, or another organization, there are steps in place to help you navigate the trials and tribulations you’re facing.”

Matthew quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nothing great can be accomplished without enthusiasm to keep your dreams alive in spite of problems.” The shortest, long step you’ll ever have is reaching out for help because you are never alone.

Matthew concludes with heartfelt gratitude, “I wish HOW founder, Jim Dolan, was still with us, so I could personally thank him for giving me back my enthusiasm for life through HOW, and the BRV Chapter.” Matthew acknowledges all who continue Jim’s legacy of service, his fellow brothers and sisters that serve our nation and communities, and the unsung heroes, especially spouses, for their unwavering support. “Bravo-Zulu!”

Consider this an invitation to be part of something lifechanging—support Matthew and the Heroes on the Water family.

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