I’ve been watching the continuous news coverage of the closing of the war in Afghanistan, America’s longest war. It comes with so many mixed emotions. When the war in Afghanistan started, I was a newly minted Staff Sergeant in the Army, in my mid 20’s, and in a very, very different place in my life. For the most part, I was trauma free. But that was 20 years ago, before 9/11, before Afghanistan, before Iraq, before massive traumas both in war and at home…. before prison.

As I’m watching the complete collapse of what was invested into that war, I feel very angry. I wasn’t very happy when we left a vacuum in Iraq, because that was my war. But knowing the atrocities that come with leaving Afghanistan, knowing in those battlegrounds are an origin story for a generation of combat veterans, combat losses, and Gold Star families… to watch it go right back to the tyranny that we sacrificed so many of America’s sons and daughters to… The news coverage is like swallowing glass. Already reports of women being beaten for being educated, stripped of positions like judges, and being burned alive for having their hair showing… American warriors fought just as hard for them as we did protecting our country. And 20 years later, it’s collapsing just as quickly as it started.

20 years ago was much different. We’ve lost trillions of dollars to these two wars, we’ve lost thousands of lives to the battlefield, and most upsetting, more veterans have died at their own hands from the traumas of places like Afghanistan and Iraq, the numbers rival all those lost in combat in Vietnam. That’s what 20 years of this war did. The least we could have done is made any of that matter. Without a doubt, we needed to leave…. but leaving it this way, to this tyranny, leaves me feeling like we wasted so much.

The end of our war in Afghanistan is here, 20 years from when it started. Some may rejoice. Some may cry. Some may be angry. But we will have to try and be prepared for what happened in 2001 that led to this in the first place. Sadly, now we have to view it through 20 years of traumas. This book is closing. Pray there isn’t a sequel. Afghanistan… The End.

by Rory Andes

So much lost. So much emotion…

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