Army veteran applies military discipline with mental health focus for success with school, work, life balance

Published by Rachel Arceo on

Mind over matter may be seen as a mantra for achievement, but most successful people suggest taking a break and re-evaluating how sustained herculean effort affects health. One UCC student shared his story about finding balance through school.

Veteran student, Kodi Fisher takes a moment to enjoy the sunshine on campus.
Rachel Arceo / The Mainstream

Kodi Fisher, a second-year UCC student, spent five years of  his young adult life working diligently as an Army helicopter repair specialist. He found success, drive, comrades and “family” in his time in the Army.

However, he also found pain.

After joining the military at 17, Fisher worked hard to learn and adapt. From his join date of August 2014, he displayed his strong work ethic by specializing in aviation mechanics, graduating at the top of his class in Advanced Individuals Training. This brought him work as repairman for the Delta Company, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regimen.  He later moved on to work with Alpha Company.

Fisher was content and purposeful for years, until tragedy struck before second deployment. In 2016 while stationed at Fort Campbell, Kent., Fisher was informed of the death of  his younger brother.

Fisher wanted to be home.  He requested a change of station, to be near his family.  It was denied.

Given little choice, Fisher continued, throwing himself heavily into the demanding and constant work necessary during his time with the 160th. After years of rigorous work, five combat deployments in the Middle East and Africa, and little time for self-reflection, the strain started to show.

Fisher was having difficulty sleeping followed by bouts of sleep paralysis. It started to affect his work. He sought counseling help; was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, which would later be recognized by the Veterans Association to be post-traumatic stress disorder.

Fisher was taken off active duty, eventually given an honorable discharge, medically retired.  Despite understanding the dangers of sleep deprivation, Fisher acknowledged a resentment he had regarding his discharge

 “I was mad at the Army itself, I felt I had more to give, still have more to give,” Fisher said. “I had to get past the anger.”

Kodi Fisher commiserates with fellow veteran, James Frost, in the vet center.
Rachel Arceo / The Mainstream

After being discharged in March of 2020, Fisher moved with his girlfriend from Tennessee to Oregon to be with his family in Douglas County.  He then took a much-needed break. 

After three months of time off, Fisher recognized a personal need for purpose, so he started speaking with Ann Abel, UCC’s Veteran service coordinator about using his G.I. bill towards an education at Umpqua Community College.

In the fall of 2020, Fisher began his journey as a UCC student, while technically homeless. During Fisher’s entire first year of attendance, he and his girlfriend lived with friends and then in a trailer with no internet and few resources necessary for successful schooling. Yet he managed, successfully completing 40 units prior moving in to an apartment.

He credits his military training for being able to complete that year. “If it weren’t for my military training, I would never have finished that year in school. I don’t know how other students do it who face challenges like I did,” Fisher said.

Initially enrolled in computer programming, Fisher discovered he needed something different.

“The more I learned, the more I could see what type of work environment I wanted to be in,” Fisher said. “I didn’t want to be stuck somewhere with very little social interaction.”  Fisher found a path towards his goals in business administration.

Fisher accepted that his first attempt towards a degree did not suit him.  “It helped me learn about myself just by accepting the fact that I did not like a certain thing.  It wasn’t disheartening to realize I had to change, because it helped me find something better in the long run.”

Learning from mistakes is a strong suit of Fisher’s.  After a particularly challenging semester with work, school and life balance, Fisher had to overcome a stress-induced stomach ulcer.

Kodi Fisher meets with T.O.P. advising specialist, Bryanna Mandes Paradice, to solidify his spring term class schedule.
Rachel Arceo / The Mainstream

“It was really hard to balance work, social life and school and make the VA appointments,” Fisher said. “I try to find the best balance I can.” He dropped his workload and is now very conscious about maintaining his health.

Fisher’s adaptability, discipline and social skills have helped him carve a path to a rewarding side business.

“Video-gaming no matter what state or county I was in was a way to keep in touch with those I cared about,” Fisher said.

Now Fisher works as consultant educating gamers and other online personalities about how to grow their social media, audience share and business using a fusion of techniques he learned through both his time in the military and as a student.

“Once I learned about goal setting, I started teaching my friends.  Learning at the college expanded my reality,” Fisher said. “I started to develop skills in scheduling, budgeting, and I was not only able to use those to help myself but others too.”

He also teaches content creators how to improve video and other social media content. He educates his clients on how to develop and target their niche audiences, teaching key concepts such as organic growth and portfolio development.

Through his consulting work teaching others, Fisher himself has grown. “It’s helped grow and develop my skill sets beyond the educational environment,” he said. He strives to be a good example for his five younger siblings and his friends.

Fisher also continues to learn at UCC, not just about business but about himself. 

“I am setting an example by dealing with my mental health and asking for help when I need it,” Fisher said. “After high school, I set this example by going to the military and acquiring work experience. When I was discharged, instead of giving up, I learned more life skills.”

Fisher continues to share his experiences with his family and friends in hopes they can change things in their life through mindful action.

While conversing about mental health, Fisher pauses, thinking carefully about what he wants to say. He gets quieter, and his eyes focus in.

“I want anyone else going through PTSD or mental health challenges to know: you are not alone.  The world is better off with you.  There will always be someone willing to help.”

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