Born and raised in Rolla, Missouri, Sowers graduated from Rolla High School in 1994. He attended Duke University on an ROTC scholarship and graduated Cum Laude with an A.B. in Public Policy in 1998. Sowers went on to complete a PhD program at the London School of Economics in 2011. His dissertation was entitled "Nanomanagement--Superior Control and Subordinate Autonomy in Conflict" and it explored how technology adopted by hierarchical organizations dramatically affects how superiors monitor and direct the actions of subordinates.
In 1998, Sowers was commissioned in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. First assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, Sowers led a combat engineering platoon in the NATO campaign during the Kosovo War. While stationed in Germany, he represented his division in the Best Ranger Competition as well as an Eco challenge. Between 2004 and 2006, while at 10th Special Forces Group, Sowers served two deployments in the Iraq war as a Green Beret, leading and advising U.S. and Iraqi units on counterinsurgency operations. During his 11-year military career, Sowers was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, Senior Parachutist Badge, Military Freefall Badge, Ranger Tab, Special Forces Tab, Belgian Commando School Brevet, two Bronze Stars, Joint Service Commendation Medal, NATO Service Ribbon, and numerous Distinguished Honor Graduate awards. From 2006 to 2009, Sowers served as an Assistant Professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point, teaching courses in American Government, Advanced American Government and Media & Politics. While at West Point, Sowers led a cadet summer trip to India, focused on service learning in the Himalayas and interaction with the Tibetan Government in Exile, including an audience with the Dalai Lama. In fall 2009, Sowers taught in the History and Political Science Department at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Missouri. He left the Army with the rank of Major.
On May 9, 2012, President Barack Obama nominated Sowers to be Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Sowers testified before the United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs on July 18, 2012 and was introduced to the committee by Senator Claire McCaskill. Sowers was confirmed by the full Senate on August 2, 2012, at the time the youngest Senate confirmed Assistant Secretary in the nation, and was sworn into office on August 20, 2012.
While at the VA, Sowers represented and advised the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on matters relating to media relations, public affairs, and intergovernmental affairs. He has testified before the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs regarding the VA’s efforts to increase the number of veterans accessing their VA benefits. Sowers served as a primary spokesman for the VA, making appearances in numerous national print and televised media. He served in the post until April 2014.
In April 2014, Sowers accepted a position as visiting faculty in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.
In 2015, Sowers, along with fellow founders Shayne Sowers and Narayan Krishnan, created the firm now known as GoldenKey as an online marketplace that offers real estate services. In March 2016, Fortune Magazine listed GoldenKey as a top Raleigh-Durham start-up to watch. During the summer 2016, Sowers led GoldenKey through its participation in the NFX Guild accelerator program. In 2016, GoldenKey was named by CNN as one of the five startups “changing the real estate game”.
In September 2009, Sowers announced his candidacy for Congress against incumbent Representative Jo Ann Emerson. Libertarian Rick Vandeven and Independent Larry Bill also ran.
On Veterans Day 2009, former Clinton White House official Paul Begala featured Sowers in an op-ed, calling the candidate "everything you'd want in an up-and-coming young leader: brave and battle-tested, deeply rooted in his community and passionate about bringing change and progress to his long-neglected corner of Missouri."
In January 2010, Sowers traveled around all twenty-eight counties in the district in a project dubbed "Boots on the Ground." Sowers worked a job in every county, garnering a great deal of local press. Boots on the Ground's success led to a mention from former Governor of Vermont Howard Dean on MSNBC, predicting Sowers "is going to knock off, I think, Jo Ann Emerson." In July, Sowers embarked on Boots on the Ground II, again working a job in every county.
Sowers was added to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's top races, the "Red to Blue" program.
Sowers raised over $1.5 million in the 2010 cycle. Sowers out raised all of his opponents, including Emerson, two out of the four quarters. Sowers was endorsed by General Wesley Clark and his organization VoteVets, which aims to put more veterans in Congress. He was also endorsed by two Medal of Honor recipients: Retired Colonel Jack H. Jacobs and former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey.
In a profile in mid-April, Politico's Jonathan Martin called Sowers "one of the party’s most promising recruits." In August, Sowers released his first ad, Combat Bible, which highlighted his military credentials. The ad was met with praise from Politico's Ben Smith, who called the ad "How to run against a GOP incumbent in red America this year."
On Election Day, Emerson defeated Sowers with 65% of the vote. After his congressional campaign, Sowers worked as the Senior Advisor to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the nation's first and largest non-profit focused on improving the lives of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families. As Senior Advisor, Sowers represented his generation of veterans, speaking and attending various conferences from Renaissance Weekends, TED Global, Aspen Institute's security forum and the Clinton Global Initiative.
During his campaign, Sowers received national attention for his call to end the conventional war in Afghanistan, criticizing the objective of training the Afghanistan National Army and Police. In September 2010, Sowers appeared on Joe Scarborough's Morning Joe and The Ed Show to call for an end to the war in Afghanistan. In October, he was profiled on the front page of the Washington Post.