Veterans of the war in Afghanistan are disillusioned and have expressed anger over allies being left behind after U.S. soldiers left the country last week, The Hill reported Monday.
People who work for groups that assist veterans told The Hill many individuals have questioned their military service following President Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal. Some veterans said they also have tried to help stranded Afghan allies flee the country.
The PTSD Foundation of America’s Executive Director David Maulsby said his organization’s crisis hotline had received calls from Afghanistan veterans who are “really, really angry with what they have seen on television the last couple of weeks.”
“What they’re angry about is that so many of the men, women, children that they met while they were there, many of them who served them while they were there in Afghanistan, were just left behind and the process of trying to get those [special immigrant visa holders] out there was an unmitigated disaster,” Maulsby, citing SIVs who worked for the U.S. government at some point during the 20-year war, told The Hill.
“They are absolutely furious, not only with the administration but with the hierarchy, the military. They are just absolutely beside themselves.”
Alex Cornell du Houx, who served seven years in the Marines and then nine years in the Navy, told The Hill he has had many “sleepless nights” thinking about Afghan allies trapped in the Taliban-controlled country.
“I would run with athletes that we were working with in Afghanistan and they would run on our base,” Cornell du Houx told The Hill. “Then we found out that the Taliban had visited their house, taken away their sneakers, beat one of them up, and graffitied their place. That spurred urgency to get them out of Afghanistan as soon as possible.
“For me, many of the sleepless nights extracting people from Afghanistan were more stressful than being in combat with the Marine Corps.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs crisis hotline and other veterans groups said they have seen an increase in activity since the Taliban took control of Kabul. Veterans are questioning what their service accomplished. Some families that lost loved ones are wondering whether the death served a purpose.
Former Army Blackhawk helicopter pilot Hugo Lentze is chief strategic officer for the Travis Manion Foundation, named after a Marine who died in 2007 while serving in Iraq. “It’s people asking themselves, was my service worth it? Was it worth it for my loved one to be killed in Afghanistan? Is it worth it? Is my service worth it now, even outside Afghanistan? Those are big questions,” Lentze told The Hill.
“I think that would challenge anybody’s mental well-being and health.”
The Hill said more than 775,000 U.S. troops served in Afghanistan, with about 20,000 wounded and 2,400 killed.