Keith Walter Dow - Poet of the Military
over 1 year ago
Often the path that we take in a moment is the step towards something else despite whether or not we know it. For many people going to college, landing a job, or whatever we might encounter, life is pushing us in a certain direction. However, for all we know, this could push us to entirely unexpected places. This journey to getting to where we are meant to be is not going to look as perfect and as seamless as we may hope. For Army veteran Keith Dow, life was full of twists and turns. Despite the challenges and difficulties he was presented with, he reflects on his life proud of the journey he has had to take to get to where he is.
The First Push
During his high school years, Keith had been actively involved in the hardcore music scene. He made no effort in academics. After high school, he didn’t feel ready to take on the pursuit of a college degree; it wasn’t even something he had been encouraged to consider. It was not until he turned 21 that he felt compelled to really work towards something more concrete. After a recruiter had presented to him the idea of a career in the military, Keith became intrigued. The idea of an actual career in the military was not something he had ever considered as an option either but, tired of working part-time jobs to make ends meet, he decided to enlist. However, he did not have the foresight to know what he was really getting into. Keith wound up at Fort Lewis and was deployed to Iraq within a year. His experience was not the best. “I hated being an MP,” Keith explains. Aside from just general aspects of the work being strenuous and not in his interests, there was no opportunity to bond with the other MPs, unlike what Keith witnessed in other branches of the military. He remembers Italy, where he was next sent, as a rather unfortunate location to be stationed. The base did not provide enough for the men within, and on the outside, there was easy access to drugs and other substances. A number of bad experiences, mostly involving unfortunately toxic leadership, was the last straw for Dow. Keith had decided he had to get out. Though he had considered re-classing, he had lingering fears. “What if I go through this whole school and this whole…selection and this shit still sucks…?” he asked himself. After five years, Keith took his life into his own hands and separated from the Army.
After leaving the military, Keith had taken on fairly basic life-ish things. He got married, got a job, had a baby. His career was spent primarily in landscaping and construction and though he enjoyed the work, it was not fulfilling. He felt the desire to start moving towards something in life and so he decided to go back to school. He got a degree in Human Services, and was finally in a place where he could recognize the value that education had. Though he felt there were unexpected challenges with getting into school and paying tuition, beyond that, the adjustments of getting back into life outside of the military were a challenge. “Some people have a really bad experience getting out of the military and going to school,” he explains. “I think it was the best thing for me.” Keith managed to make the dean's list his first semester. After feeling the sensation of accomplishment, he made it a point to stay on the dean’s list and so he did. The drive he had from his hard work pushed him into getting his masters in Social Work. For his fieldwork placement, Keith had the good fortune of combining his military experience with his higher education. Keith was paired with the HunterSeven Foundation, whose work focuses on researching and working with veterans that have suffered exposure to toxic substances. “Being in the military and being overseas, where they don’t have the infrastructure like we do, like they don’t have the waste management, there’s a lot of nasty, nasty shit that we’re exposed to,” explains Keith. Keith feels incredibly honored to be learning from the company and being able to contribute to the work they are doing. Even still, there is more that Keith has pushed himself into.
Dead Reckoning Collective
While in Italy, Keith had the fortune of meeting Tyler Carroll, and though they didn’t know it then, they both were passionate about writing. It was a means of coping for them both. However, there was a genuine love for the written word behind all of that. Their mutual love for writing led them to the idea of a new career. With a lot of passion, they explored their options for a business. After getting a clear vision as to what they were going to be working towards, they founded Dead Reckoning Collective, a veteran-owned and operated publishing company whose mission encourages literacy as a component of a positive lifestyle. They have managed to publish 11 books, with still more in the pipeline. The most popular so far, much to Keith’s surprise, is poetry. “It’s crazy to think about now,” says Keith, “cause we’ve come a long way.” And they intend to go much further. They plan to make video content, publish more books, and work with more people. If you are interested in hearing Keith discuss his story in greater depth, you can watch his interview with BUBS Naturals here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CLc42rejgXP/. Keith’s story is one worth recognizing because it highlights the reality of how things can turn out so unexpectedly. And though it was not all butterflies and roses, Keith does not dwell on what could have been. “If I had faltered from any part of the journey, I wouldn’t be where I am,” he said. And he intends to go much further.