Cody Daniel, Graduated Sentinel
First Class Petty Officer, U.S. Navy
Medical Doctorate, Eastern Virginia Medical School
Hoping to be part of something bigger than himself, Cody made the choice to join the U.S. Navy, being the first in his family to serve. He wanted to contribute to the Global War on Terror following the September 11, 2001, attacks and have as much of a positive impact on as many people as he could. The best way to do thiswas by becoming one of the select few to become an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technician, helping to neutralize explosive weapons in almost every environment. During his 10 years of active service, he deployed three times to various provinces of Afghanistan and participated in a partial deployment to Somalia. While on deployment, his platoon was breaking contact from an enemy attack and his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED) causing a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Cody also developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from events involved both directly and indirectly across these deployments. After his third deployment, he went on shore duty and when the deployment stress subsided his symptoms became much more prevalent. He was sent to Walter Reed where he was diagnosed and started receiving care.
The TBI and PTSD manifested as near-crippling depression, anxiety, and fear which hindered his academic success and caused him to withdraw from relationships and social situations. Cody faced many challenges and obstacles that made his transition harder, especially when it came to being comfortable in a large classroom setting. Simple academic tasks were overwhelming and going from one day to the next seemed impossible. Realizing he couldn’t do this alone, he admitted he needed help. With relentless support from his wife, he began using holistic approaches, physical therapy, and other resources to help him work through the struggles he was facing. Realizing that overcoming the hardships was going to be a lifelong adaptive process and not an instant singular event was critical for his healing process as well as managing his expectations. Since then, he has learned to explore a new set of mental and cognitive abilities and has found ways to accommodate his disabilities.
After his experiences with treating combat casualties during deployments and his own experience with working on his own injuries and healing, Cody realized his passion for helping others was a huge part of himself and he could use his leadership skills and experience to become a physician to help improve patient outcomes in a healthcare system. Cody learned of Sentinels of Freedom Bridge for Education Program from a fellow veteran and graduated Sentinelwho shared how we assist veterans like himself pursuing higher education. After Cody was accepted to Eastern Virginia Medical School for a Doctor of Medicine program, he applied and was accepted to Sentinels of Freedom for the Fall 2019 Cohort. Thanks to your donations, Sentinels of Freedom was able to support Cody with opportunities for a mentor connection, networking, andprofessional development, as well as exam fee assistance and a monthly financial subsidy to assist with the cost of living while pursuing higher education.
Cody graduated with his Medical Doctorate in May 2023 and was matched with his top pick residency program. Sentinels of Freedom is proud of Cody for accomplishing the goals he set out to complete with our program and knows he will excel in his next mission as a physician!
“SoF has provided constant and reliable support through a number of different modalities which have proved invaluable in my pursuit of higher education.”