It was January 1989, during my senior year in high school. My family was sitting at the dinner table when my mother turned to me: “I was talking to some mothers today, and their kids are all applying for colleges. When are you going to get to it?”
I stared back, “I already told you. I'm joining the Army.”
Until that moment, my parents apparently thought my plans for military service were a form of youthful rebellion. Or stupidity. But that night my plans suddenly became real -- the start of a months-long battle to convince them that I knew what I was doing and would not be deterred.