“I figured that if this was my son, I would at least be able to say goodbye to him alive in Germany. My job is to get him to Germany…alive. That’s my job.”
– Judy Nuber
Judy became a nurse in 1990 and while it was a fulfilling career, she was raising six children, living paycheck-to-paycheck and was disheartened that there seemed to be zero chance of saving money for her retirement. In 1998 her oldest daughter had just graduated high school and was going Active Duty in the Navy. At the age of 39, Judy took a leap that would change her life forever: She joined the Navy Reserves.
For nine years she served with her associate degree in nursing as a Navy Corpsman, a position that provided medical care to Navy personnel. She had the opportunity to travel the world during her service, and enjoyed every second of it.
“I had a wonderful career in the Navy,” she said, adding that of the many highlights, she’s especially proud of are achieving the status of First Class Petty Officer, becoming a flight deck qualified Corpsman while serving on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, and obtaining her commission as a Combat Trauma Nurse in the Navy Nurse Corp.
However, she couldn’t serve as a nurse in the Navy without a Bachelor’s Degree; for the first nine years she possessed an Associate’s Degree in nursing.
In 2005 she decided to go back to school to earn her Bachelor’s and prepared to deploy.
It was Dec. 30, 2012, when she left for Afghanistan for the Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit in Kandahar. She was there for 10 months.
“We took care of everyone,” she said. “We took care of NATO troops, Afghan civilians – men, women and children – Taliban, civilian contractors; we were very busy.”
At the time of her deployment there were four trauma teams who worked 24-hour shifts.
“We had to train more people when we got there,” Judy said. “It wasn’t enough.”
The teams were supposed to be on for one full day and off for three.
“We were never, ever off for three,” she added. “We were called back to the hospital all the time. Sometimes while we were headed back to our barracks after putting in a 24-hour shift we were called back for multiple casualties.”
Judy saw injuries from war that she describes as “heinous.”
One of the worst injuries she saw, and one that most affected Judy, was Travis’s.
Among the chaos of treating severely injured men and women, Travis’s situation was incredibly impactful to Judy: “He was so young and I knew he was going to be a quadruple amputee. I fought with God over him.”
Judy said when Travis arrived at the hospital he wasn’t unconscious, but he was in shock.
“Most of the guys who came in weren’t yelling or screaming – they were very quiet,” she said. “If they could answer questions, they did. Most of them were more concerned about their squad than themselves. It’s something I’ll never forget.”