First off thank you for your service.

Do you know where you will be after the year is up? Or even what state? If you do, you could take the exam and start looking for a sponsor before you are out. You could even start making, or purchasing, equipment now as well. Even if you don't know where you will end up, the biggest thing you should do in the next year is read, and learn all you can. I'm sure some forum members from Nebraska will chime in with offers to meet, and see their birds. If you find yourself in northern Wyoming you are welcome to see mine. Not much to see this time of year, but come September I will be back in the field hawking almost daily.