Happy Veteran’s Day! Many foster youth go on to serve in the military – some for the structure, some for the sense of purpose and direction, and many for a deep rooted patriotism. Here, we highlight one of our alumni who has seen battle on more than one front, and yet shows the true resiliency and hope that defines so many foster youth around the country. (He has even returned to Boys and Girls Haven to share his story with our youth!)
Petty Officer First Class John Lowe participated in Boys and Girls Haven programming from 2003 – 2006 before aging out of the foster care system. Despite national statistics stating one in five emancipated foster you will go on to experience homelessness, one in four will encounter the criminal justice system within two years, and about half will be unemployed by age 24, John went on to join the military, travel the world, and start a family.
John came to Boys and Girls Haven’s Wachtel Cottage in 2003 as a part of the agency’s Pre-Independent Living program – a structured, staffed, residential life skills program. He later transitioned to his own apartment on Frankfort Avenue through the Boys and Girls Haven Independent Living program and was matched with volunteer mentor, Don Kalmey.
Said John, “I found the independent living program to be very valuable to me because it was a great stepping stone to learning how to function on my own. I also found a lot of comfort in my mentor as well as some of the staff when I had questions on how to deal with normal teenage issues.”
After gaining emancipation in 2006 – and with a confidence boost from his mentor and Boys and Girls Haven staff – John joined the United States Navy in November of the same year. Despite the realities of the battlefield and the long deployments separating him from family, John says he has no regrets about his vocation.
“I have seen some horrific things and made devastating decisions while treating patients in Afghanistan. In Iraq I was in an explosive blast while on a patrol,” says John. “But these things have also shaped who I am because I have been able to learn what is really important in life. I have learned not to sweat the small stuff, to enjoy every second by living in the moment, and not to take for granted the people that matter to me the most.”
Petty Officer Lowe is married to his high school sweetheart, Raleigh. They recently purchased their first home and have three children and two Siberian Huskies. The family spent three years at Naval Base Capodichino, Italy, before returning stateside where John currently serves Naval recruits in Great Lakes, Illinois.
Thank you for your service, John! We’re so proud to count you as part of the Boys and Girls Haven family!