A Zest for Life: “There’s No Mountain Big Enough”

Jody was in a rut.

The North Carolina man had spent eight years in the Marine Corps serving around the Middle East.

But when the uniform came off, he fell into the all-too-common spot many veterans find themselves in.

“You create this camaraderie, this essence of teamwork and once you get out you’re kind of like a lost sheep,” he said. “You are just kind of wandering around. You don’t find that connection so easily in the civilian world.”

One day, his wife – a Wells Fargo employee – heard about Warriors to Summits and the bank’s involvement in the trip. She nominated her husband, but Jody thought he’d never hear back.

A few months later he got the call.

“It was unbelievable,” he said. “In my opinion it was like having that winning lottery ticket.”

On Sept. 11, 2014, he and a contingent of other veterans with disabilities summited Mount Whitney. Before that, on a training mission, he connected with teammate Brian. The two realized they had a much deeper connection — they were in the same Marine Corps unit but had never met each other.

“We actually met each other through Warriors to Summits,” Jody said. “The same day that everything went south for his team, when they got hit by the suicide bomber, we were on the way to support them. And we got ambushed on the way to help those guys.”

Jody has always found peace in the mountains. “I draw energy from the earth,” he said. “There’s no better feeling.” The Mount Whitney trip helped pull him out of that post-service rut and ignite a zest for life.

“You kind of shut down and its hard to trust people and open up,” he said. “This was a big eye opener for everyone. A lot of folks were struggling with their own issues that came to a head, and they buried the hatchet. It allowed a lot of folks to start the next chapter in their life.”

For Jody, that new chapter is becoming a father.

“My wife and I – I think we’d talked about this one day on one of our hikes – we’ve had some fertility issues over the years,” he said. “We just found out that we’re pregnant with our first child.”

He hopes to do more work volunteering in the community, with Wells Fargo, and hopes to join No Barriers Warriors as a mentor or expedition leader.

“The biggest thing is that there’s no mountain big enough. There’s so much out there that you can accomplish if you set your heart and mind to it,” he said. “It just falls down to you, your spirit and your inner drive. Man, there’s No Barriers.”