The Defense Department attempted Wednesday to console veterans of the 20-year war in Afghanistan Wednesday, reassuring those traumatized by the images of violence and despair emerging from that country this week that they were “not alone.”
“Remember that what is happening now does not minimize or negate the experiences of all who served overseas,” the unsigned statement read. “Countless service members answered the call of duty and did what was asked of them.
“Service is never for naught,” the statement continued. “Think about the times when valor and courage changed lives for the better. Focus on the present and what feels meaningful to you in this moment. Our veterans served honorably and completed missions as required and as necessary – protecting our freedoms and we are forever grateful for their service.”
America’s involvement in Afghanistan is ending in total ignominy after Taliban forces reconquered the capital city of Kabul Sunday, nearly 20 years after they were driven out by US-led NATO forces.
As up to 6,000 US troops attempt to secure the capital’s international airport for evacuation flights, President Joe Biden confirmed Wednesday that between 10,000 and 15,000 Americans remain stuck in Taliban-held territory, along another 50,000 to 65,000 Afghans who assisted NATO forces during the conflict and face execution by the Islamic fundamentalists.
Meanwhile, the airport itself has been the site of chaos and tragedy, with Afghans attempting to get out by any means necessary — including clinging to the outside of departing flights, with tragic results.
The Pentagon said Wednesday that “[t]alking can be very therapeutic, whether it’s to a local chaplain, psychologist or someone you served with in the military.
“Do what feels right for you. There is not one way to think or feel or act. The important thing is to take advantage of the numerous mental health care resources that are available to you,” the statement concluded. “Remember that this is one moment in time and regardless of what comes next, we will get through it together.”
Also Wednesday, the Marine Corps’ top two enlisted officers released a message aimed at Marines who “may be struggling with a simple question: ‘Was it all worth it?’”
“We both believe — without question — that your service was meaningful, powerful and important,” read the statement from Marine Commandant David Berger and Sergeant Major Troy Block. “You answered the call to serve, proudly carrying the torch of so many generations of Marines before you. You put the good of others before yourself. You fought to defend your country, your family, your friends and your neighbors.
“You fought to prevent terror from returning to our shores,” Berger and Black went on. “You fought for the liberty of young Afghan girls, women, boys, and men who want the same individual freedoms we enjoy as Americans. You fought for the Marine to your left and the Marine to your right. You never let them down. You never, ever gave up.”
Berger and Black recommended that Marines “connect with your fellow Marines and their families — particularly those you served with overseas. This is a time to come together and give further meaning to our motto, Semper Fidelis.
“Let us remain faithful to our fellow Marines, faithful to our Marine families, and faithful to the memories of all who have sacrificed,” they concluded.
Since the initial invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, approximately 800,000 American troops have served in that country. More than 2,000 of them died and nearly 20,000 more were wounded.