Marine Couple Leaves Alaska Stronger After Marriage Enrichment Week

July 17, 2017 • United States

Double amputee Cody Jones and his wife Alexis needed time together to refresh their relationship after a challenging start to their marriage. Operation Heal Our Patriots provided that time and much more to them in Alaska.

Marine Corporal Cody Jones and his wife Alexis were strengthened by their time at Samaritan Lodge Alaska.

Marine Corporal Cody Jones and his wife Alexis were strengthened by their time at Samaritan Lodge Alaska.

Every marriage needs a tune-up. But, just as the hardest part of a car tune-up can be finding time to schedule it, the biggest obstacle to marital rejuvenation can be clearing the calendar for that special together time.

Military marriages are among the most pressed for time, as lengthy deployments can disrupt already busy lives, especially when kids are involved. Combat injuries and their long-term ramifications can further compound the pressures on husbands and wives—regardless of whether the veteran is active-duty or retired.

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So, retired Marine Corporal Cody Jones and his wife Alexis of Ennis, Texas, were thrilled when they were chosen to be one of almost 160 couples who will be flown to remote Alaska this summer for a week of marriage enrichment through Operation Heal Our Patriots. They joined nine other couples, each with a spouse wounded in combat after 9/11, for a week in early June.

Cody and Alexis are both Christians and their relationship was not in crisis, but they knew they needed the time in Alaska to reconnect with each other and recount why they fell in love in the first place. A week away to focus on God and each other was the refresher they wanted after facing heart-wrenching trials together in their young marriage.

Persevering Through Loss

Cody joined the Marine Corps in 2009. About two years later he was introduced to Alexis by her twin brother, who was stationed with Cody in Norfolk, Virginia.

Cody and Alexis (kissing) share a fun moment in the Alaska woods.

Cody and Alexis share a fun moment in the Alaska woods.

The couple started a long-distance relationship—Virginia to Florida—that quickly turned serious. Alexis said she was attracted to Cody because of his “goofiness” and his love for people. Cody fell in love with Alexis because of her kindness, her values and goals, and their shared relationship with Christ. He proposed just three months later.

In March 2012, the couple was married. Soon a whirlwind of difficult, life-changing events would ensue.

Alexis became pregnant. Then, only a few months later, Cody deployed to Afghanistan. On December 16—just weeks into his combat tour—he was badly wounded. Riding in the third vehicle of his patrol’s convoy, Cody was injured when an improvised explosive device was remotely detonated on the road and blew up right underneath his seat. The 110-pound bomb cut right through the transport.

Both of Cody’s ankles were dislocated and broken, his left heel bone was shattered, and four toes were blown off his right foot. He was flown from Afghanistan to Germany to San Antonio, Texas. Alexis soon joined him at the hospital. Doctors performed surgery, and his injuries were more serious than originally thought. They asked if he wanted to go through the long and agonizing process of limb salvage—with no guarantee it would ultimately avoid the loss of his leg or foot—or if he wanted to elect amputation.

Alexis (standing with Cody) thanked Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham for starting Operation Heal Our Patriots.

Alexis thanked Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham for starting Operation Heal Our Patriots.

Cody chose amputation. He lost his left leg below the knee and half of his right foot. He now wears a prosthetic on his left side and a brace on the right. Cody was released from the hospital in January 2013.

The next month Cody and Alexis welcomed their first child, a son named Aidan. All seemed well, but at six weeks old he died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It was devastating, and they mourned, but the couple’s faith remained steadfast.

“We leaned on each other and we leaned on God, and that’s how we got through it,” Cody said.

He sees the hand of God in the timing of it all. Had he not been injured and forced to return home, he may never have met Aidan.

“This [my injury] was a blessing in disguise, because I was able to have that time with my son,” Cody said. “Having those moments together with him and with my wife means a lot.

“It’s all part of God’s greater plan.”

Chaplains teach daily Bible-based classes on marriage.

Chaplains teach daily Bible-based classes on marriage.

While their first year of marriage was by far the most traumatic, Cody and Alexis have continued to face changes and challenges year by year. Cody had additional surgeries and was medically retired from the military in 2014. God blessed the couple with two more sons, now 2 and 1, and a fourth child is on the way. Cody continues to navigate lingering pain and mobility challenges.

He tries to keep positive and doesn’t take himself or his injury too seriously. “It makes life so much easier,” he said. He enjoys making people laugh and even dressed up as a peg-legged pirate one Halloween.

Quality Time Brings Them Closer

When Alexis and Cody traveled to Samaritan Lodge Alaska this June—five years into their marriage—they were good and ready for the week of Christ-focused marriage enrichment. They needed time away from the kids and the many distractions daily life brings.

Cody and Alexis renewed their vows on a Lake Clark beach.

Cody and Alexis renewed their marriage vows on a Lake Clark beach.

“We were stuck in a rut, just arguing, bickering, and I wanted to do Operation Heal Our Patriots to find a way of reestablishing our marriage,” Alexis said.

Their week together in the wilderness of the Last Frontier had the desired effect. Cody described it as “a chance to remember everything I love about her [Alexis].”

The couple went fishing, hiking, and kayaking together, and, most important, spent hours in chaplain-led, Bible-based classes working on various relationship issues. They had plenty of time for conversation, talking through personality types, communication skills, and constructive conflict resolution. They learned many tools to build up their marriage, and one of the biggest takeaways for them, Alexis said, was the concept of perpetually “dating” your spouse. Overall, they said the week brought them closer to God and each other.

“The quality time has been amazing for our marriage,” Alexis said. “We don’t get a lot of time by ourselves.”

Alexis said the experience reinforced her priorities: God, husband, and children, in that order. “God was there for me before my husband. My husband was there for me before my kids.”

On Friday, June 9, their final day in Alaska, the Joneses were among five couples to publicly pledge to build their lives and family on a firm foundation of Jesus Christ and His Word. That short marriage rededication ceremony on the banks of Lake Clark was the culmination of an unforgettable week that strengthened them as individuals and as a couple.

“Being out here has given us a chance to reconnect, regroup,” Cody said.

Looking forward, the couple is confident the training and tools provided by Operation Heal Our Patriots will continue to benefit their marriage in many ways. “This is going to make our life at home easier,” Cody said.

Cody and Alexis left Alaska refreshed in their marriage and their walk with the Lord.

Cody and Alexis left Alaska refreshed in their marriage and their walk with the Lord.

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Operation Heal Our Patriots helps military couples build a strong spiritual foundation during a week of Biblically based workshops, relationship-building wilderness activities, and individual care by our retired military chaplains. We offer all this free of charge to these American heroes as a token of our appreciation for their service and sacrifice. Your gift will help us cover the costs—including transportation, lodging, activities, and long-term aftercare—so that we can help them find hope in the Lord.
Bless the Marriage of a Military Couple Operation Heal Our Patriots helps military couples build a strong spiritual foundation during a week of Biblically based workshops, relationship-building wilderness activities, and individual care by our retired military chaplains. We offer all this free of charge to these American heroes as a token of our appreciation for their service and sacrifice. Your gift will help us cover the costs—including transportation, lodging, activities, and long-term aftercare—so that we can help them find hope in the Lord.

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