Wil Lowe is no stranger to adversity. After graduating from the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Boarding School, he started pursuing a college degree, but the desire to serve his country was too strong. He put his educational goals on hold to join the Marine Corps and served honorably for nine years.
While he reflects fondly of his time with the Corps, he made the personal decision to leave the service. He found a job, then relocated to another state where he found a different position working in tourism. Lowe continued to work full-time while attending college classes at night, pursuing a bachelor’s degree. However, his plan for his future was derailed when he unexpectedly lost his job in 2016. For the first time in his adult life, he faced the prospect of being homeless.
Lowe contacted the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s Reintegration Department for help finding a job. At the time, the Reintegration Department housed one of three Department of Labor Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP) grantees in Oklahoma.
HVRP is the only federal grant program focused on reintegrating homeless veterans into the workforce. HVRP assists organizations in addressing the complex problems that homeless veterans face by providing a variety of services to help veterans find employment.
The HVRP grantee helped Lowe prepare for an interview with Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology and bought him new professional clothes. Their assistance helped him secure a job, but it didn’t stop there. They also encouraged him to expand his future employment opportunities by furthering his education. Lowe completed his bachelor’s degree, followed by an MBA. Throughout the process, he continued to look for opportunities to serve in his local community since the desire to serve is something that’s inspired him throughout his life.
Today, he is the Director of Human Resources & Special Projects at Bacone College, a private Tribal-focused university in Muskogee, Oklahoma. He was elected Speaker of the House for the Muscogee (Creek) National Council in 2020. He said that part of his motivation to seek elected office was to change the perceptions of veterans and give them a voice within the Tribe.
Lowe is thriving and has become an advocate for the HVRP program. Having faced unemployment and looming housing instability himself, he can articulate to interested veterans what kind of support they may receive. He advises anyone facing a similar situation, "seek out the help, and this program will help you help yourself.”
Oklahoma received $1,157,525 in HVRP funding in Program Year 2021, divided between three grantees.
If you are interested in applying for funding through HVRP, visit https://www.dol.gov/agencies/vets/programs/hvrp for information on when the competitive grant program opens.
If you are interested in finding out about local HVRP grantees, visit https://nvtac.org/
Dana Kelly is a communications specialist with the Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service and a proud 21-year veteran of the United States Army. Follow VETS on Twitter and LinkedIn.