Episode #111: I speak with Jody Fuller, comedian, Iraq war veteran and captain of the Alabama National Guard. He explains how us stutterers have nothing to worry about when it comes to enlisting in the military and stepping onto the stage.

Music played on today’s episode:
U.S. Army Camp Songs by Male Chorus with Billy Murray
Good Humor Quadrille (1st Figure) by Edison Military Band

Danny’s Thoughts:
This is a new feature I’m starting up to complement new episodes. I elaborate a little bit by adding my parting thoughts on items mentioned. And I know, cheesy name. I’ll change it once I think of a better one.

During this episode, Jody mentioned the army values; loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honour, integrity and personal courage. “And that spells out leadership”, Jody explains. Well, LDRSHIP, to be exact.

Leadership is commonly not part of a stutterer’s belief about what they are capable of achieving. Me? A leader? With my speech? This sounds familiar to viewers of The King’s Speech. But as we’ve seen from King George VI’s biography, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Jody’s military career and all the guests I’ve had on my show, we are more than capable of leadership in spite of our speech disorder. Managing people at work, giving presentations, coaching little league, making dinner reservations, asking a girl out. We can all be leaders.

I think the army values is something us civilians can also live by. For us stutterers, they can help shape us into people others would like to hang around with no matter how severe or worried we may be towards our speech impediment.

My take:

Loyalty is a virtue which builds trust and reliability. Being at your friend’s side at the hard times; offering advice; ready to help out; being the first to apologize. That kind of thing.

Duty is taking responsibility, taking the initiative, being accountable. Nobody likes a sneak who tries to pin the blame on scapegoats. Also, it is our duty as stutterers to get ourselves into speaking situations and educating about stuttering. Take the initiative and order that pizza.

Respect is self-explanatory. Treat everyone as you’d like to be treated yourself. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and it’s usually best to agree to disagree. Including taste in music 😉 I’d also like to mention self-respect. Don’t be hard on yourself for having a speech impediment. Don’t put your self down or hold yourself back. You will only live up to the distorted image you created inside your mind.

Selfless service is doing nice things for people, helping others because you want to, doing the dishes and cutting your neighbour’s side of the front lawn, staying behind to help a colleague out. This ties in with Jody also mentioning that you do good things without showing it.

Honour is living up to all these values. This is the kind of awesome person I strive to be.

Integrity is doing what is right. Living up to your ethics. Standing your ground. It can be hard to debate and state your case when your body’s preventing you from speaking. Argue your case gracefully, ask to be given the time to complete your sentences. You might also have to explain that you aren’t nervous and that emotions can affect stuttering volume if you’re in a particularly heated debate.

Personal courage is what us stutterers have every day of our lives — we face our fears every time we open our mouth. Getting out of your comfort zone and get into speaking situations. Having the courage to accept your stuttering, even being proud of it, seeking speech therapy, disclosing your stuttering, volunteering to give a presentation at work. Taking baby steps is a great way to build personal courage slowly, cautiously, growing with one step at a time even when you start out as a covert stutterer.

LDRSHIP — you can do it!

Share your thoughts in the comment area below. What values do you live by?