Captain Jody Fuller is a serious Soldier, having deployed to Iraq three times. But when he’s not serving his country as a member of the Alabama Army National Guard 111th Ordnance Group, he’s serving up laughs, using his experience as a stutterer not only to entertain but empower others. Here’s what he has to say about living life to the fullest and achieving your goals, even in the face of adversity.
My mother says she’ll never forget my first words. She said, “We don’t know what the hell you said, but it had 15 syllables. We thought you were a genius.”
Getting into public speaking was a long journey. It started out as strictly comedy. Along the way, people would tell me how my public speaking was an inspiration to them because of my stutter. We all know the average person’s No. 1 fear is public speaking. People said they never looked at stuttering in the light I showed them until they heard it from me.
You have to have mini goals along the way.
At the risk of sounding arrogant, I always thought I had a bigger purpose than just making people laugh. I had a message to share, too. That spread from just stuttering to Veterans’ issues and Veterans’ awareness, as well.
I always start out strong with a joke. They tend to work well, so I know I got them right there. I’ll let them know I’m not making fun of stuttering — what I’m doing is bringing awareness to stuttering.
When I’m in the Southeast, because we’re so heavily involved in football, I always tell everybody that I come from a long line of disabilities — I stutter, my father was blind, and my mother and brother are Alabama fans. Because I’m an Auburn guy, all the way.
I come up with my material by living life and paying attention to everything around me. I was driving down the road with a friend of mine last year. We pulled up to a traffic light. He said, “Jody, do you think they drove all the way up here from Ecuador?” I said, “Say what?” He said, “That car tag in front of us, look, they’re from Ecuador.” I leaned forward. I looked at it real good. I looked over at him and said, “Dude, that says, ‘educator.’”
Story and photo courtesy of GX magazine. GX magazine is an official publication of the Army National Guard.