Sean Bode

Veteran's journey led him on a path to assist others

November 6, 2023


On a relatively quiet evening in 2008, U.S. infantry soldiers cleared houses door-to-door in a Baghdad neighborhood, searching for explosives. Upon returning to base from the night’s mission, platoon leader Lt. Sean Bode, a 2005 Jepson School graduate, saw several of his men playing Xbox video games and asked where they got a new giant television.

“They said they found it in a deserted house and figured they might as well take it before someone else did,” Bode said. “I told them, ‘Absolutely not — if it wasn’t purchased, it’s not ours.’ We returned the television the next day.”

His Iraqi interpreter thanked him, worried someone would steal his own belongings after he was forced to flee his home.

“When you’re in an active war zone, it’s easy to tell someone who is being shot at to return fire,” he said. “But doing the right thing, and acting with integrity, is the heart of real leadership.”

In 2009 after four years on active duty in the U.S. Army, including 15 months in Iraq, he returned to civilian life, while also serving as an Army reservist.

The transition from a war zone to civilian life was not without challenges. While working in human resources for Disney, Bode took medical leave to deal with the aftereffects of war. The personal support he received from Disney and the company’s 2012 launch of Heroes Work Here, an initiative to hire and support veterans and their spouses, had a profound impact on him.   

In 2015, he left Disney to create and lead Veteran’s Journey, a company where he coached and mentored veterans to help them heal, reach their personal goals, and achieve a fulfilling life.

“When service members separate from the military, they leave a place of community and higher calling, which can be challenging,” he said. “Some are also dealing with unresolved trauma. While struggling is part of the journey of growth, we can draw inspiration from others who have walked the path before us.”

Sean Bode, a 2005 graduate, receiving his airborne wings from his father-in-law, Col. Robert Barry, as an ROTC cadet at the University of Richmond.

As an ROTC cadet at University of Richmond, Bode received his airborne wings from his father-in-law, Col. Robert Barry. “He modeled how to live with grace and servant leadership,” Bode said, “and I strove to pay it forward.”

Lessons learned at the University of Richmond as a leadership studies major, ROTC cadet, and Bonner Scholar resonated throughout his career, Bode said. Ultimately, he decided those lessons would help him have the greatest impact if he returned to Army service full-time.

Today he is a lieutenant colonel with Special Operations Command South, supporting Central and South America and the Caribbean from his station at Homestead Air Reserve Base south of Miami. As chief of reserve affairs, he coordinates Army Reserve troops to aid the command’s mission to assist friendly and allied countries. “Leadership is always about taking care of people.”