I finished my "Tactical Combat Medical Course" (TCMC) which was the week of 09/27/2010 and returned to my office to work the week of 10/04/2010 which I finished 10/08/2010 and that was my final day in my office.
Monday, 10/11/2010 is Columbus Day and the office is closed. Starting on Tuesday, 1012/2010 I will spend the week processing with the National Guard. Officially, on Wednesday 10/13 I go on active duty and early Friday, 10/15 Joan will drive me to the airport for my flight to Fort Benning, Ga. I spend about a week there getting equipment and I presume some more training and from there we are flown to the Middle East. I believe all deployed soldiers fly to the same Middle Eastern country, which I'm going to leave unsaid for now, and from there we are either dispatched to Iraq or Afghanistan.
It appears that I indeed am going to Iraq and the people I'll be working with and especially the physician I will be relieving have already been e-mailing me. A PA who sat next to me for the TCMC course is also headed for the same place. It sounds like they really are short of medical providers and they're already trying to speed me through my processing when I arrive and get me set up quickly which is fine with me. Also, the sooner I arrive the sooner the clock starts on my 90 days "in country". If you're stuck somewhere in the dessert porocessing you're delaying the beginning of the 90 days of your deployment "in theatre." Even when the army truly needs you they have a way of delaying and making you wait and do nothing.
For next weeks processing, as usual with the army, I need bring in documents that nobody ever asks you for. I need to produce my marriage license, the birth certificates of all of my children, copies of my mortgage and the list goes on and on. The packing wasn't hard because you wear the same style of clothing every day. Since I've always been fashion challenged this is a relief for me. The army is now highly digitalized and each soldier essentially needs to bring a computer. Orders, memos etc are sent out by computer and this part has been good for my poor computer skills.
I'm not really worried other than the concern I have for Joan who will have to run things here without me. I am very concerned about everything she will be left to deal with but that doesn't really belong in a blog.
People have been very good to me and for the sake of those who are serving much longer tours than I will be I'm very happy to see how much people really do support our deployed soldiers. I happen to know a lot of people who voted against George Bush both times he successfully ran for president and who completely oppossed his decision to launch the 2nd Gulf War. Some of these individuals are what I call "Too Liberal To Function" but there is no diffierence in the concern they show for our soldiers and the concern I see from the Republicans and The Conservatives. They all seem to show pride and support for our military and concern for our Armed Forces on overseas deployment.
Last week I finally received my "orders". In the military you don't go anywhere without your orders which start out saying "You are ordered to active duty as part of Operation Iraqi Freeding/Operation New Dawn starting on............
It will begin on 10/15 and the planning and training stages are over. My concern now is that I perform on the level that is expected of me and that I provide these soldeirs with the highest standards of medical care available anywhere in the world.