You Are My Rock – Part 2

Written by Guest Blogger SGT Ray Ashby Nuckoles III (Ret.), who served a combined 13 years in the United States Air Force and Army. As a decorated Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran, Ray served in multiple units throughout his career, before being medically retired from the Army due to combat injuries sustained from an Improvised Explosive Device. This is the second part in a 2 part series by Ray. Click here to read Part 1.

She didn’t question my faith in God – or tell me I wasn’t Christian because of the mistake I had just made, or the words I had used. She didn’t tell me I was a bad parent or husband because I was cursing and mad around her or the kiddos. By then a couple of them had made it home from school. She didn’t call the police on me because I wouldn’t leave her alone, or stop antagonizing her in our own house.  She Gets Me. She understands that my time in war changed me — changed my soul. She knows that a part of me will always be in Iraq, on that road where my Soldiers and I were blown up, and where some of them had to leave this world forever.

She understands that my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and my Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) prevents me from wanting to talk to fellow family members or friends, or even fellow soldiers that I went to war with. She understands that as a free American, it is my right to not talk to anyone if I don’t want to. She knows that I won’t go to a beach. Ever. She knows that I won’t touch sand, or eat anything that has a granular or sandy feel to it. Ever.

She understands that I was blown up on a busy road, with traffic everywhere, and that terrorists were fond of dump trucks with explosives that they were actively using to blow up my fellow Soldiers and I. She understands that should she, or our children ever be threatened, in any kind of way, I will ensure that the retribution is swift and absolute. She knows as a result of this that I have issues when in the truck and that I need to try and keep myself quiet with my eyes closed so I can concentrate on NOT having a terrible flashback while traveling.

She understands that I have been raised by the military (my father was in the Air Force and retired from it – Go Senior Master Sergeant ‘Nuck’ !! AIR POWER !!!! She understands that I signed up when I was 17, and wanted to sign up since I could understand what the words “sign up” meant. She understands that I have always wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself and that I love my country with all of my heart.

My father is a good man. He is an honorable man. He always talked about the book of unwritten rules. I learned that if you learned the unwritten rules, the written ones are easy.  Always take care of your wife and kids.  NEVER bite the hand that feeds you.  Always help others before yourself. NEVER ask for something from the person you just insulted. Get in charge. Then take care of your people. They will then take care of you.

The Nuckoles Family at the YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch

ALWAYS stand up for and tell the truth. Even if it hurts those you tell, and even if you are the only one standing. I have tried to live my life by these and the other rules that my father taught me, even if it has caused me temporary strife. Amanda has always been with me through the hard times, and she has always held me accountable for my actions. But she has always known how to hold me accountable, without going out of proportion to the mistakes that I was making.

Amanda has always been my sounding board, my rock, my therapist, my doctor, my teacher, my inspiration, and my role model. Amanda Jo Peterson Nuckoles, YOU are the perfect iteration of what a mother, a sister, a friend, a wife, and a future grandmother should be. I can’t wait to grow older with you, to live the next chapters of our lives together, and I thank you. I Thank You for your patience, your love, your intelligence, your true understanding of humanity, truth, and honor, and motherhood. I am eternally grateful I have you to hold, love and cherish every day, and I will do whatever it takes to LOVE you, PROTECT you, and HONOR you and the three wonderful children that you gave to me.

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