Maybe it was close to a month and a half ago, perhaps two months. I don't recall correctly - as strange as that sounds. I should be able to recall an event so significant.
I chose to join the Armed Forces of the United States in what was a relatively peaceful time. It was on December 19th that I raised my hand and swore to defend the nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. A few months later, I left Phoenix for Basic Training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. A few months after I returned, was when September 11 happened.
Twice, I was almost deployed. Both times would have seriously affected my academic career. As it is, I had lost a year due to my training at Fort Lee. But as God/higher power/luck would have it, I simply fell through the cracks. However, the possibility of deployment always remained with me. It could come at any time, and so it did. My Sergeant called me up one fine day and told me that I was going to war. I wasn't as shocked as I thought I would be. After I put down the phone, I sat quietly for a while. I had tried to mentally prepare myself for such an occasion. I had planned for contingencies and things of that nature. The first thought that I had wasn't "Oh crap, I gotta go to war!" It was "Oh crap! Now I gotta take care of five thousand things before I go to war" Then came the unpleasant task of having to inform my family and friends. They all took it as well as they could. Initially they thought it was some sort of joke, but then they realized that I wasn't joking at all.
People ask me if I am scared. Am I? No. Nervous? Yes. Anxious? Definitely. Do I want to go to war? Of course not. Nobody does. Then why am I not scared? I don't know. I don't know if I am supposed to be. The only thing that bothers me right now is wrapping up my life here in Phoenix, and putting it in stasis for the next year and a half. Everything else is secondary. What matters also is that I am a Soldier, and this is my duty. I know some of you might be scoffing at that, and I won't even try to explain it to you. It's not something that can be explained. You have to be a soldier to know. Now you might call it "Brainwashing", but that isn't it either. It simply is what I have to do.
When Arjuna stood before the great battlefield of Kurukshetra, his will to fight wavers as he sees his gurus, friends and family on the opposing side. He turns to Krishna for advice, and Krishna counsels him. Thus begins the Bhagavad Gita. Lord Krishna advises Arjuna that he should fight as a matter of duty, without attachment to the result. Far be it from me to compare myself to Arjuna. I am merely trying to explain what I have to do and why.
Do I want to do it? Not really. I don't really want to go to war. But what I want is irrelevant. Only what I must do is relevant.
Over the next month I received a lot more information. Currently, we are going to Bhagdad, and will be based in the Green Zone. My primary function will be to provide Logistical Support to my unit, since my MOS in the US Army is "Logistics and Supplies Specialist".
Our date for departure right now is August 14th, though that is subject to change. That about covers everything I know. Now I'll just play the waiting game.
In closing, here is a quote from the Gita (unicode support required):
Bhagavad Gita: 2.47
karmaṇy evādhikāras te
mā phaleṣu kadācana
mā karmaphalahetur bhūr
mā te saṅgostv akarmaṇi
You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action.
Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.