When discussing Iraq, many are enraged that the mission continues. Arguments against the battle vary whether it is the cost of war, the price of politics or the idea that yet and still it's all about oil.
With the all the finger pointing, some say the most important factor in the equation is being lost in the discourse.
Erath County resident Mary Ceglia, 48, knows that no matter the cause of the war or why the fighting continues, there is one reason that she is packing her bags and preparing to depart on a journey that will lead her to the heart of the blood stained sands of the Iraqi desert.
"It is all about the soldiers," Ceglia said. "No matter who you are, what you believe or how you feel about our place in Iraq, the main concern should be for our soldiers."
Just this past week, the military suffered the 4,000th death resulting from operations in Iraq. That's 4,000 American men and women of the armed forces that have lost their lives in the war. Staggering are the numbers and equally alarming are the number of troops who have sustained injuries. According to the Pentagon, at least 29,451 U.S. troops have been wounded in action.
Ceglia possesses skills that are essential to the efforts in Iraq. She is a well-trained, highly qualified critical care nurse and though she may not be a soldier, she is fighting for her beliefs and the lives of her fellow Americans.
So, she will depart Thursday and embark on her second tour as a reserve officer.
Ceglia joined the Army Reserves in 2004 and received a direct commission as First Lieutenant because of her experience and education. In 2006, she was deployed to Landstuhl, Germany, where she was stationed for one year.
"Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is the main hospital that treats soldiers coming from Iraq," Ceglia explained. "It was a good first deployment. I wasn't in a direct combat zone but I was treating soldiers."
While in Germany, Ceglia worked in pre and post-op and in the post anesthesia care unit. Throughout her stay, she remained certain that the job she and her colleagues were sent to do was essential.
Despite the need of skilled medical professionals, Ceglia said the one thing wounded soldiers needed more than anything was a friendly face, open ears and compassion. "Listening to the soldiers was the most important job of all," Ceglia said. "Generally, these soldiers are young people, they are scared, confused and in pain. I learned to listen to their stories and listen well."
With few distractions and without the routines of daily life, Ceglia said it was easy to develop her listening skills.
"I was able to leave my worries at home and focus on the soldiers," Ceglia said. "You don't get caught up in your daily grind. The soldiers become your life and in return, you offer kindness and support."
She learned many things from the soldiers she treated. "These men and women become soldiers for many reasons," Ceglia said. "They have a great deal of courage and loyalty to their country and loyalty to their fellow soldiers. Even the severely wounded are most concerned with returning to stand at the side of brothers and sisters in battle. The courage and loyalty is coupled with guilt and the pain of surviving when their buddy did not."
Ceglia said her job in Landstuhl was not much different from her job at home. She used her skills as a nurse to treat the critically wounded as she would at Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital. The main difference was that the patients had much more to work through than injuries alone.
She said her first tour was an easy one. She was nowhere near the combat; she had freedom and enjoyed traveling Europe in her time off.
Ceglia said that the hardest part of all was leaving her family behind. Ceglia, a single mother, left her Dublin ranch in the hands of her sister Suzanne and daughter Trish, who had just graduated from high school.
"They handled everything. They took care of the house, the animals and the bills," Ceglia said. "My family is great they are my backbone and support. There is a lot to keep up with here - we have over 30 mouths to feed - 11 dogs, 9 cats and 13 horses."
Although her second deployment is still about the soldiers and although her family is still backing her every step of the way, Ceglia has no doubt that her time in Iraq will be nothing like her year in Germany.
"This time, things will be different. I have no doubt that going to Iraq is going to be tough," Ceglia said. "Over there, in Iraq, you don't leave the fort unless you are going to battle."
Another contrast, is that this time Ceglia will not only be treating American soldiers, she will also help mend the wounds of Iraqi citizens and coalition forces. The shelter she enjoyed in Germany will not be granted this time, the turmoil of a country divided will be staring her in the face.
Is she scared?
"Yes I'm scared, a little nervous and I do not know what to expect," Ceglia said. "I have spoken with many soldiers and reservists who have spent time in Iraq but still nothing can prepare you for the reality. There is going to be nothing familiar about going to Iraq."
Her faith in the forces has helped Ceglia battle many of her fears.
"The hospitals are very well protected," Ceglia said. "I don't feel that I'm going to be in immediate danger but there will be a heightened sense of awareness and I do not know how I am going to deal with that."
When asked about her mother's deployment, Trish, now 21, dug deep for the words to express her feelings.
"It's stressful. But, the way I was raised, when there is a job to do, we get it done and do the best we can," Trish said. "I find inspiration in my mother, I look up to her. I know that in the end, this will make us both better, stronger people and teach me to be more responsible."
As a reservist, Ceglia will be working side-by-side with other reservists and soldiers. It is that union of military men and highly skilled professionals that she said makes the American force complete.
"Most reservists are highly-skilled professionals, intelligent people with important jobs who have a lot to learn about being soldiers," Ceglia said. "As a soldier, I would think that you have to dig deep down and find what you are really made of. Working together, we make the picture complete."
Together, they are the men and women who risk it all.