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Helping veterans heal their wounds and pay their bills keeps Ed Cody moving forward.
Cody is a 39-year volunteer at $28 billion asset PenFed Credit Union in Tysons, Va. Whether he’s raising funds for ill or injured veterans or collecting computers for children of military families, Cody honors the sacrifices of those who served their country.
“My work is founded in my experience as a U.S. Army lieutenant in Vietnam,” Cody says.
When Vietnam veterans returned home, a divided nation often ignored their service. That spurred Cody’s lasting commitment to recognizing veterans’ contributions and meeting their needs.
When the PenFed Foundation, where Cody is a founding director, learned that the high cost of lodging near the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto (Calif.) Health Care System forced many veterans and their caregivers to sleep in their cars, the organization took action.
Cody became part of the PenFed Foundation campaign that raised $17 million to open the Lee & Penny Anderson Defenders Lodge in 2014.
“It brings tears to your eyes to hear their stories,” Cody explains. “Our veterans deserve better given the sacrifices they have made.”
After his military service, Cody worked for the Department of Defense until he “retired.” He then worked for contractors and his own business in varied roles that included connecting disabled veterans to employers.
His credit union work started early. He was 19 years old when he helped a church-based credit union offer small loans to protect members from loan sharks. Every loan payment included a savings deposit to build financial security.
That experience foreshadowed PenFed’s design of its Asset Recovery Kit (ARK) to counter predatory lenders with an emergency loan for up to $500 at a one-time cost of $5. The credit union has made more than 32,000 of these loans.
When schools switched to remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, Cody and another PenFed volunteer donated laptops to the daughters of a blind, double-amputee Marine veteran. This led to PenFed refurbishing and donating to military families more than 500 laptops that had been scheduled for replacement.
In every situation, he emulates coach Lou Holtz’s advice: “Do what’s right, do the best you can, and treat others like you want to be treated.”
Cody lives that credo by assisting active-duty servicemembers, veterans, and their families during challenging times. “It’s all about the desire to see people succeed,” he says.