Your Service in Afghanistan Mattered and Still Does Today.
Aug 19, 2021
This has been an undeniably emotional week for the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that served in Afghanistan over the last two decades. I have listened to my own brothers and sisters in arms share their grief, anger, and disillusionment with the events of the last few days and weeks. But the hardest thing for me, as a veteran of Iraq, a Marine, and the wife of an Afghanistan veteran, has been watching the people that I care about struggle to reconcile their service and sacrifice with the eventual outcome.
Let me say clearly to all of you: nothing can nullify or diminish your accomplishments over the last twenty years of warfare. Each of you did exactly what you were asked by your country to do, and you did so with honor and with the skill and fortitude that we’ve come to expect from our American military.
I spoke today with my colleague, Doug Pfeffer, an Army veteran of the war in Afghanistan, as he reflected on his last deployment to Afghanistan:
To say that this last week has been difficult, would be a tremendous understatement. The events in Afghanistan have forced us all to think, rethink, and relive our actions in that country. My last deployment there was a difficult one. We lost dozens of our friends, and were pushed to the brink of exhaustion over two operations that met with a futile outcome.
Now, I watch as the country that I fought so hard for, and that I watched others give everything for, collapses in front of my eyes. I watch as the Afghan National Army were so easily run over and dismissed. Mostly, I can’t help but think about the friends of mine who cannot come home, and their families.
My emotions run from anger, to bitterness, to dismay, and back to anger. I think of the children, who would play on the side of the road, while we searched for IEDs. I think of the women and girls, whose lives we were changing, and whose lives will likely revert back to what they were. And I think of my interpreters, and how much they loved what we were doing, and talked of making their way to America themselves one day. I fear for those left behind.
To my non-veteran, civilian friends, let’s remember to reach out and support our veterans, regardless of politics, this has been a hard week for them.
And to my fellow veterans, what we did has merit and purpose. It’s what we all had signed up to do—and we did it honorably. Seek each other out, lift each other up and support each other. There are resources available if you or others need them.
I know that many of you are frustrated, and are desperately looking for ways to make meaning of your time in service, with more urgency now than ever. I also know that you are needed here at home. You are needed by your fellow veterans, and you are needed to solve challenges in your own communities. Just as you worked to build, train, support and serve the Afghan people, you can bring those skills and that experience home to our country, and continue your mission here. Look for and join your local service platoon. Here, you will find your new unit, and together, we will write the next chapter of our story of service.
Mary Beth Bruggeman, President, The Mission Continues
Doug Pfeffer, Senior Director, Regional Operations, The Mission Continues