JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. — A popcorn machine outside the command suite invites people to stop by and say hello to Col. Tasha Lowery, the new commander for Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.
“I come from a southern family where the idea of food, whether it’s soul food, snacks, etc., can bring people together,” Lowery said. “Something as small as bringing in a popcorn machine can bring a team together and can, at times, lift spirits.”
Lowery, raised by a single mother, grew up in Blackstone, Virginia. She was 14 years old when she adopted the role of matchmaker and introduced her mother to her stepfather, who was her high school Junior ROTC instructor and a Marine Corps veteran.
She started her military career in the Marine Corps Reserves, something she didn’t tell her mother and stepfather until she was halfway through her “rat” year at Virginia Military Institute.
“My mom and stepdad have always been my biggest supporters,” Lowery said. “There was definitely a sense of pride from my stepdad, who had served in the Marine Corps for so many years.”
Lowery, who matriculated into VMI in 1998, was part of only the second class of students to attend VMI that included women. Her time there was not without its challenges, but she said it made her more determined to prove herself.
“That experience drove me to a point where there was a lot more drive to not quit,” Lowery said. “I credit that time at VMI for that. It probably created a little bit of stubbornness where if you tell me I can't, then I will.”
Switching from Marine to Soldier
Lowery served three years in the Marine Corps Reserves while attending VMI and had every intention of going into the Marine Corps full-time when she commissioned in 2002. She also wanted to be in military intelligence.
During her last semester at VMI, she decided to switch from the Marine Corps, where she was a supply lance corporal in her reserve unit, to the Army. Lowery said she felt her chances of being selected for military intelligence would be better, because the Army is a larger organization with more opportunities.
She ended up getting selected for military intelligence, going through all the training and serving in a variety of assignments as a military intelligence officer, including roles while deployed in Mosul, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005 and in Bagram, Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2007.
After all that, however, she realized military intelligence wasn’t what she thought it would be, so in 2009, she transitioned to the Adjutant Generals Corps. As an AG, Lowery said she can focus on the human element of serving.
“I feel like there's always a human element,” Lowery said. “I think sometimes it's easy to forget that when you're trying to accomplish something. Everyone is just focused on the mission but not who is doing it.”
After transitioning to AGC, Lowery held a variety of leadership roles at Fort Liberty, North Carolina; Stuttgart, Germany and the Pentagon where she served as the military assistant to the Army G-1 and the aide-de camp for the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army.
In 2021, Lowery graduated from the National War College.
Family is important to Lowery and part of what appealed to her when she took the position as joint base commander.
“The family aspect is a big piece of it, if I'm being honest,” she said. “Being able to continue to stay in this area, particularly being dual military, I knew my husband would be able to have a job here in the area. And then my son with hockey. That was a big part of it as well. My mom lives with us, so family is close for her, which is really important.”
Outside of her military duties, Lowery said she is married to a unicorn. Her husband, Shawn Lowery, Sr. is a Chief Warrant Officer 5 - the highest rank a Warrant Officer can achieve. They met in Afghanistan toward the end of their second deployments and then got together again after his permanent duty station changed to Fort Liberty, where she was also stationed.
“The rest is history,” she said. “15 years later, 13 years married, and he remains the most loving husband who is supportive of me and all of my flaws!”
Part of Lowery’s home life revolves around 12-year-old hockey player, Shawn, Jr., who aspires to play professionally, hopefully for the Pittsburgh Penguins, someday.
“It's interesting to see him grow,” Lowery said. “He’s home-schooled because of hockey. We made that decision because he wanted to devote more time to training. He's very competitive and comes by that honestly.”
She also shares her home with her mother, known by all as “Grandma Lucy” and is a pet parent to a pure black German Shepard named Vader.
Importance of being real
Lowery can be described as a people person with a warm, infectious smile and bubbly personality, and she expresses a genuine desire to get to know people.
“I think the personal side of people ties in with the professional side,” she said. “I want to take the time to truly sit down and just understand somebody. That’s how you really build a team.”
Lowery said if there was one thing she could consider her greatest accomplishment, aside from raising her son, it would be that she continues to be the woman her mother raised her to be.
She believes in being genuine and tells the story of a three-star general she met who shared the same bubbly, outgoing personality. The moment stuck with her because it spoke to her desire to not change who she was to suit someone else’s ideal.
“She went to a military college,” Lowery said. “She’s outgoing, kind of bubbly, with a kind of quirky personality. She was told, ‘You probably shouldn’t go into the military. It’s just not for you,’ and she said to herself, ‘I can only be me, and if that’s not good enough, then okay, but that’s all I can be.’”
Coming to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall
Lowery, who has been in the Army for nearly 21 years, was serving as secretary for the Joint Staff when the opportunity to serve as commander at JBM-HH arose, and she took command in May 2023.
“We’re told what’s open, and then we can rack and stack our choices,” she said. “This was my first choice. I knew I wanted to command. I’ve commanded at every level – company, battalion – and now to be able to command at the O6 level, I’m pretty excited, to be quite honest.”
Lowery said the love and compassion she has for her son bleeds into her role as a leader.
“The way I lead and the way I want people to see me as a person is how I want my child to see me as a person. I want him to be able to look at me and say, ‘My mom’s a badass,’” Lowery said. “That’s important to me because, again, I’m a person just like everybody else. I just happened to now be an O6 in the Army. But at the end of the day, I’m still Tasha Lowery.”
Since she served in the Marine Corps Reserves, Lowery said she found it interesting that she was chosen to be joint base commander for the only joint Army/Marine installation. She said her time in the Marine Corps Reserve helps her understand the Marine Corps culture and creates a connection with them. She also served with new Headquarters and Service Battalion commander, Col. William Hood, at the Pentagon prior to coming to JBM-HH.
“He was on the Office of the Secretary of Defense staff, and I was on the Joint Staff prior to coming into both of our jobs, which is great,” Lowery said. “So, there’s already a built-in relationship there which has been really good.”
Lowery said the more she learns about the job, the more she discovers she had no idea what she was getting into. Between the older infrastructure, joint base partners, barracks issues, administrative issues and more, she has come to realize she can’t put 100 percent into everything that needs to be done.
She compared the complexity of JBM-HH with a charcuterie board with a variety of different parts that she looks forward to integrating to form a cohesive whole.
“Looking at my role, I am the integrator of all this different stuff,” Lowery said. “It's really putting 30 percent here, 40 percent there, giving out guidance and allowing the folks who are in charge carry it out. I will never be the subject matter expert in any of it.”
While she is in command of JBM-HH, Lowery said she looks forward to continuing partnerships with the communities outside the gate and making sure the families of the Soldiers and Marines who call the base home are taken care of so they can focus on their mission.
One project she hopes to see started is the long-awaited renovation of Patton Hall, a project that has passed through the hands of other installation commanders. She said if she can get that project off the ground, it would mean that the hard work and dedication of those who came before her to try to get it renovated will have finally come to fruition.
“Patton Hall is a place in the National Capital Region for strategic outreach and Arlington National Cemetery support,” Lowery said. “Distinguished Americans and guests rely on JBM-HH, and specifically Patton Hall, to provide dignified space to host these events.”
Although she knows she may not be able to see projects completed, she said she would be satisfied that she at least planted the seed.
“What I've been told from my previous garrison commanders is that you may develop or start a project on a post, but you may not see it come to fruition,” Lowery said. “What’s that saying? You can plant the tree, but you may never be able to see it grow and sit under it for shade? But I think if I can leave it better than how I received it, to me, that’s success.”
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