Last week, as I watched the news in absolute disbelief, I stood at my television with my coffee in hand, trying to collect myself. My thoughts shifted quickly from “did I remember to get all the proper school supplies for these kids to start school in a few days?” to “I think I’m going to throw up”.
The back-to-school mom life schedule took a pause as I silently learned of the horror that was going on in Afghanistan.
I debated on if I even wanted to write anything about this topic. There are many emotions that come along with talking about such a tragic historical timeframe. What I truly wish to say won’t completely be divulged here, but I also know that this is a chance for me to say a few words as an Army wife. Currently, my husband is serving in the Kentucky National Guard full time, helping to train the next generation of soldiers to ensure that they are squared away for any missions that lie ahead. Prior to this duty station, my husband has served in the active-duty life and has been to many different places.
You see, my husband is one of those “post 9/11” veterans.
The first thought that came to my mind when I saw the Taliban taking over Afghanistan was “is my husband okay?”. My husband Josh spent years of his Army life in Afghanistan, working with other military units from across the globe. I have never asked him specifics of what he did there, although he has offered many stories. Mainly he was part of a support unit that helped the boots on the ground carry out their own missions. Iraq was different for him than Afghanistan and that is something I’ll leave be. Afghanistan though, my husband told me that the Army worked diligently to HELP the civilians there. From building schools, providing medical care, housing, and focusing on training the citizens there in the hopes that they can function as a civilized nation one day. I’m not sure what people assume mostly, but I tend to stay away from ignorant conversations about how people feel that we shouldn’t have been there in the first place. I am grateful for all the troops that have given up so much to be there.
Shifting my focus here as that is a rabbit hole I may go too far down. I want to talk about the mother aspect of just why the fall of Afghanistan feels all for nothing. I can’t exactly speak for her since she has since passed away, but I want to talk about Josh’s mom, Judy, and what I watched her endure. My mother-in-law was so full of love for her son. When I started dating him, I could see the connection they shared. It was important for me to respect this connection, because that woman watched as her baby suited up to go to war. She put him on a plane three times, sent him over to Afghanistan, and prayed daily for his safe return.
Yes, I felt the same sickness in my stomach for Josh to return home safely, but a mother’s love is unbreakable.
My heart aches as I see people fleeing for their lives, as America scrambles to figure out what to do next. I think about how this would make Judy feel, as well as all the mothers of those troops that served in Afghanistan. I’m angry for them. It’s deeply insulting to see such sacrifices and years of mental hardship crumble before our very eyes; the feelings of “my child helped build this, for it to just fall within days’ time”. I’m so sorry to Judy and I know she would let it be known that she was just grateful her baby made it home safely.
Lastly I want to say this: if you have a veteran in your life, please check on them.
My husband is doing just fine with this information and other veterans may be the same as he is. Their reactions differ and my husband has his opinions about all of this, but overall he is doing well. However, I can guarantee you that many veterans are not okay with seeing this. Veterans that lost limbs, lost battle buddies, and the families that had to endure the mental heaviness of loving someone dealing with it all.
There are many resources available to help if you need to talk about this. Whatever you are feeling as you watch Afghanistan fall, so quickly after decades of war, please seek support:
Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255. Visit Veterans Crisis Line.
Call the Louisville Vet Center at 1-877-927-8387.
To the Gold Star families out there, I am praying for you. Your loss was not for nothing. Your loss is palpable and painful. Please know that we are forever in the debt of those that gave the ultimate sacrifice. I’m praying for you, and I would not be able to be here today, writing my opinion, if not for the freedoms granted from these soldiers. Afghanistan was not for nothing, and I pray for peace one day.