DR. KENDRA LOWE: MILSPOUSE STRENGTH
When it comes to actively supporting our spouse community, Dr. Kendra Lowe is a champion. The course of her life and her passions has led her on this path.
Leaving active duty after six years of service for the sake of their family, Dr. Lowe experienced an unexpected awakening. Having been a spouse, albeit a mil-mil spouse, Dr. Lowe believed that she knew what life would be like as a spouse. After leaving active duty life, she realized that she had been blind to the privileges that wearing the uniform afforded her. From having an instant community in her unit to having a purpose and an understood role, she found herself floundering in spouse life. She asked herself questions like: what is my role? Where do I find a community? How involved should I be? How can I help?
Being research-minded, Dr. Lowe threw herself into her studies. A mentor guided her to point her research towards her own struggles. Like many milspouses, her struggles had to do with military challenges and stresses. She began a thesis to prove that more time away for a service member resulted in higher stress for their families. Surprisingly, the research didn’t prove her theory. Rather than finding a simple equation of time away equaled stress, she found that ambiguity and instability equaled stress. She found that the stress levels amongst military spouses were twice as high as normative stress levels. She put numbers to what we all know in our bones, that our normal is different from that of civilians.
She finished her studies and was published in an academic journal. But she didn’t have plans to do anything further with her research. That is, until her family PCSed to Okinawa. While stationed overseas, she found herself once again adrift, like many spouses, searching for purpose. What is my role? How can I help? This time, a spouse mentor helped illuminate her path. Her mentor spoke with her about her challenges and her past and proactively helped Kendra find a purpose. She invited spouses to her house to hear about Kendra’s research. Kendra, humble and soft spoken, was blown away by the responses. The spouses responded with such vulnerability telling her: “I’m so glad I’m not the only one.” “I’m scared to say I don’t like it.” “I’m so glad I’m not crazy.” Kendra continues to speak to groups of spouses; each time receiving similar gratitude and vulnerability in response to her kindness and relatable wisdom.
Beginning to find her sense of purpose, Kendra strove to reach more spouses. She began sharing her research with other squadrons and soon to the PACAF Command Course. Even this wasn’t enough for Kendra’s giving heart. She wanted to reach more spouses. She wanted to reach those spouses who were too timid to attend a social or a briefing. While walking their dog in order for the pet to lose weight to meet PCS requirements, Kendra expressed this desire to her husband, Patrick. He suggested she sit down and write a personal book that could reach spouses in their own space and time. Not only did she do this, writing Wake Up, Kick Ass, Repeat, she has since written a second book, further distilling such impactful information. A one-of-a-kind resource, Milspouse Strength: Changing the Way You See and Respond to Military Life Stress, empowers spouses with research based knowledge and tools to thrive in a life filled with so much unique stress.
Kendra isn’t done advocating for her community yet. She is now preparing for another move, this time to Korea, an unexpected challenge she is still working to reframe. Facing this new challenge, Kendra vows to “continue to dedicate my research and education to build awareness and tools highlighting military family stress and success. I will embrace this move, focus on our children, and provide our community with my next book aimed at cultivating a growth mindset for military children. As military spouses, we hold the prism of change for our children.”