'I'm just a civilian': Santa Rosa Beach resident honored for time spent in Iraq

Published: Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 05:26 PM.

"It definitely provided a deeper appreciation for what we ask our military to do," he said of the experience. "They helped me more than I helped them."

Civilians don't always experience the perils of war firsthand as Cox said. During his year in Iraq , nine U.S. soldiers died from various causes. And as Cox missed his family during his volunteer deployment, he met soldiers who were on their third or fourth deployment.

"When they pack up and leave, they're leaving their families behind to support our nation and put their life on the line," he said. "We kind of forget that as civilians."

While in Iraq , Cox met people from India , Uganda as well as Iraqi personnel, air force and police officers. He engaged in a lot of interesting conversations, he told The Sun.

"I learned we have a lot of similar goals and wishes," Cox said of the Iraqis he met. "Those I worked with I found to be very gracious and hospitable. They actually thanked me. And I'm just a civilian."

"They have the same hopes for the future as we do; they just have a harder road ahead of them."

When he returned to the United States , Cox saw the world a little differently.

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