Corporal Cody S., USA (Ret.)

“I want people to know that we are at war, and we still have guys getting injured all the time,” said Nancy, the mother of Corporal Cody S. “The day after Cody was injured, I did an interview—I wanted people to know that this is happening. I don’t think people are really aware. All these guys need support.”

Born and raised in North Carolina, Cody was planning on being a missionary before he enlisted in the Army.

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“He started out at seminary for about a half semester,” Nancy said, but perhaps military life was in Cody’s blood. “My father was Army, all my uncles were military, my ex-husband, Cody’s stepfather, was a Marine.”

After five months of basic training at Fort. Leonardwood, Missouri, and about a year of being stationed in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, Cody deployed on November 1, 2011 to Afghanistan’s Herat Province.

As a Specialist and part of the 21st MP (Military Police) Company, Cody’s mission was to provide support to Afghan police.

During his deployment, he traveled from Herat, which is in the northwest region of Afghanistan, to Kandahar in the southern area of the country. That’s where Cody spent his last month in Afghanistan—and where his life would be changed forever.

Early on the morning of January 26, 2012, Cody and others serving with the 21st MP were heading into a village in Kandahar. “One of their bases was taking fire,” Cody explains, “and we were going in to secure their weapons.”

“We get to the village, and I was secondary with the mine detector,” Cody recalls. “We basically were walking in a single file line, walking with mine sweepers. The EOD [explosive ordnance disposal] team was there on standby.”

Cody took a long pause while slowly recalling the story, clearly still very raw in his memory and extremely difficult to discuss.

“When the first IED [improvised explosive device] went off, which I didn’t step on, the EOD came out,” he said. “It was a guy several people ahead of me. He died. The EOD came out, and there was, like, a trench, and they were following that. My squad leader ran past me and said to get eyes on EOD. I was following them, and I stepped …”

The IED explosion claimed both of Cody’s legs. His left leg was “destroyed above the knee,” and his right leg was, at first, amputated below the knee, but was later amputated above the knee. He also lost the pinky and middle finger on his left hand.

“The first IED actually ended up working in my favor,” Cody said, going on to explain that the medevac chopper was already on its way, so by the time Cody was on the stretcher and at the evacuation point, there wasn’t much of a wait before taking off for the hospital to begin a medical journey that would continue through January 31, 2014, when he officially left Walter Reed.

“I met one of the ladies in the family waiting room, and she told me about America’s Fund,” Nancy said. “That was the first time I met someone, and they were just wonderful. They were there, they would come to me, they would ask what we need—they understood what I was going through. It’s always been hard for me, taking anything from anyone, but they just gave me a grant; I didn’t have to ask for it. They also helped with Petco gift cards for Brent, his service dog.”

“The first time we asked for help from America’s Fund, they brought us a check,” Nancy continues. “They helped with a wheelchair grant; they actually asked me about an Action TrackChair. That’s another great thing about America’s Fund: They come to you.”

Today, when he’s not catching up on movies and TV shows (“I watch a lot of Netflix”), Cody spends much of his time in the gym. “I have a personal trainer I work with three times a week.” Over the next few years, he hopes to return to college and focus on becoming a financial advisor.

“I guess the biggest thing I have realized is that no matter how hard things seem to be, you can still find the good in it,” Nancy added. “You can overcome anything. Just having Cody is a blessing. He has a TBI [traumatic brain injury], but he’s still here with us.”