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My Garden Of Life


I Love It Down Here
My Garden Of Life
By Jody Fuller
Jody Fuller is from Opelika,
Ala. He is a comic, speaker,
writer and soldier with three
tours of duty in Iraq. He is
also a lifetime stutterer. He
can be reached at jody@
jodyfuller.com. For more
information, please visit www.
The Legislature has met
for their organizational
session and elected their
leadership for the next four
Both the House and
Senate leadership remain
essentially the same as the
last quadrennium.
Senator Del Marsh,
R-Anniston, was elected
Senate President Pro
Tem. Senator Greg Reed,
R-Jasper, remains Major-
ity leader. Senator Jabo
Waggoner, R-Vestavia
continues as Rules Chair-
man and Senator Arthur
Orr, R-Decatur, will again
be Chairman of Finance
and Taxation/Education.
The only new leader will
be Senator Greg Albritton,
R-Escambia, who will be
Chairman of the Senate
General Fund Committee.
The House leadership is
completely intact. Repre-
sentative Mac McCutchen,
R-Madison, was reelected
as Speaker of the House.
Veteran Legislator, Victor
Gaston, R-Mobile will be
Speaker Pro Tem. Rep-
resentative Steve Clouse,
R-Ozark, will be Chair-
man of the General Fund
Ways and Means Com-
mittee. Representative
Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa,
will Chair the Educa-
tion Budget Committee.
Representative Mike Jones,
R-Andalusia, will set the
House Agenda as Rules
Committee Chairman and
Representative Nathaniel
Ledbetter, R-Dekalb, will
serve as Majority leader.
Representative Anthony
Daniels, D-Huntsville, will
be the House Minority
Leader and Senator Bobby
Singleton, D-Greensboro,
will be Senate Minority
Leader. There a good many
new House members and
Senators. Approximately
30 percent of the House of
Representatives is com-
prised of new members.
The Freshman Class of
State Senators has 13 new
members. That makes up
one-third of the 35-member
body. There are 11 new
Republicans and two new
I’m sitting in the pas-
senger seat in my vehicle
at the VA in Tuskegee
writing this. I come down
here at least once a week
for something. It’s always
something and the older I
get, the more somethings
there are. I don’t mind,
though. I actually like it
down here. It feels a lot
like home.
As I walked through a
door, another veteran was
coming out. He stepped
back and held the door for
“How you doing?” I
“Come on in, man,” he
“Thank you, sir,” I said.
“Alright, have a good
one, sir,” he answered.
So simple. So kind. No
hate. Mutual respect. So
real. So easy.
I love it down here.
I had an occupational
therapy appointment today
for my neck. I have all
kinds of neck issues which
derive from my first tour
in Iraq, so it’s been hurting
for 15 years. This was just
my third session. That’s
not the VA’s fault. That’s
totally on me. They were
here. I just didn’t take
advantage of my benefits,
which is not at all un-
common with respect to
veterans. We can be hard-
headed at times. Yes, I’m
talking to you.
My therapist is awe-
some. She’s from Louisi-
ana and does a great job.
I bet she makes a mean
pot of gumbo. It’s worth
inquiring about.
I do stretching exercises
at the start of each session.
While in my mid-
twenties (longer ago than
I like to acknowledge), I
received a call from my
father-in-law, a pastor, ask-
ing if I would be willing
to head the summer daily
vacation Bible school at
his church. How could
I refuse? After all, this
good man had given his
beautiful daughter to me in
marriage, mentored me in
my early ministry and had
provided me with my first
opportunity to preach.
“We’ll have a special
speaker next week,” he
had announced to his con-
“Who’s the special
speaker?” I asked later.
“You are!” he replied.
And that’s how it all
Now, at a different
church, he needed some-
one to head his week long
summer Bible school and
offered me the opportunity,
which I accepted.
While preparing for this
responsibility of working
with teachers and children,
I found myself concerned
about making everything
so clear that not even one
child could misunderstand
what it meant for them
to trust the Savior. I went
Who knew that stretching
could cause me to be sore
the next day? I am so out
of shape right now. She
also hooks me up with
jumper cables and runs
some kind of electric cur-
rent through my body. The
leads are placed some-
where on my hairy back,
so it’s always fun when
she rips them off. Today, I
got hooked up to another
electrical current thingy
that was clipped to my ear
lobes. I’m not sure what it
did, but it may have cured
my stuttering.
Late last year, I at-
tended a class for about
10-12 weeks with a bunch
of other veterans suffering
from PTSD. I’ll just put
it bluntly; I was the only
Caucasian in the class. Did
that matter? Not one bit.
In the military, we are all
brother and sisters, wheth-
er we served together or
40 years apart. We tend
to love and respect each
other in ways that most
people can’t relate to. It’s
a camaraderie like nothing
We can find the humor
in things, too, without get-
ting all bent out of shape.
Our instructor, a Vietnam
veteran, joking referred
to me as “token.” Some
people might have taken
offense to it, but that’s
not how it should be. We
should love and respect
each other, but that doesn’t
mean we can’t occasion-
ally laugh and pick on
each other.
During discussions, I
figured out that I was the
highest-ranking guy in the
class, but that didn’t mat-
ter either. Neither did skin
color. We were brothers.
We were all equal in there,
as it should be. We had a
great crew. Our class was
our instructor’s last one
before retirement, and I’m
thankful for his honest,
straight-forward approach.
He was real.
I love coming to the
VA. Unfortunately, the
Tuskegee campus received
very negative ratings in
recent article I read—only
a 1 out of 5. Yet, I think
they do a great job. I can’t
imagine what a 5-star
facility would be like.
Well, I think I have
enough words to submit an
article. The sun is starting
to set. The buses are start-
ing leave, and veterans and
staff are making their way
back to their cars. People
could learn a lot by spend-
ing a little time at their
local VA: love, respect,
and humor, just to name a
few. It’s been a good day.
I love it down here. I’ll be
back next week.