As she enjoyed occasions unfold in Afghanistan today with incredible speed, Kristin Leone started questioning her 2015 release with the United States Naval Reserve Nurse Corps, tending to injured American and NATO soldiers.
“Did I do enough?” the Berlin Borough nurse questioned. “Did we do all of this in vain?”
Like numerous veterans of the dispute in the area, Leone, 45, felt an assortment of feelings. Some stated they are bothered by the disorderly end to America’s longest war with its opponent becoming the victor. Others revealed relief that the United States and other Western nations are closing their objectives and flying their personnel and people to security.
Many are hurt for Afghans who are attempting to run away the nation after the Taliban took power and dismissed the Western- backed federal government. The last American soldiers had actually prepared to withdraw at the end of the month.
“I’m not gonna say ‘Was it worth it?’ I won’t say that,” statedAir Force Maj David Strawbridge, of Middletown, Delaware, who served outdoors Kabul throughout 2012 and 2013. “Let history define whether it was worth it or not, but right now it just hurts.”
Leone, a lieutenant leader stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, invested 6 months at a battle health center in Kandahar in 2015, dealing with intensive-care clients. She likewise is an ICU nurse at Virtua Hospital in Voorhees, New Jersey.
“The rational side of us says of course it wasn’t all for nothing,” stated Leone, who was granted the Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal for impressive service. “We had a function and we had an objective.”
Retired Army Sergeant Dwight Peterson, a Philadelphia native who was deployed to Kandahar for five months in 2004, said he is devastated by the US troop withdrawal.
He was sent home after injuring his shoulder while repairing a vehicle and watched from afar with pride as fellow soldiers helped steady the tumultuous country.
“We’ve been there 20 years and with us pulling out, it seemed like the Taliban took it back in 20 hours,” said Peterson, 47, who operates a pediatric home health care company with his wife in San Antonio, Texas. “One side of me says it felt like a waste of time.”
Strawbridge says his service made a difference. He served as part of Operation Enduring Freedom at Camp Phoenix. He believes the country’s main goal was achieved with the killing of Osama bin Laden.
“We did what we were asked to do by our country,” said Strawbridge, 53, currently an operations officer. “We went over there and we gave it our all.”
The veteran of more than 30 years said news of the withdrawal of troops stirred shock, dismay, confusion, and hurt. He said his heart aches for Gold Star families who lost loved ones in Afghanistan.
What surprised retired Army Lt. Col Mike Bliss, who did two tours in Afghanistan, was how quickly the Taliban took control. Insurgents captured Kabul with little or no resistance. US military officials say the Afghan military lost the will to fight.
”The overall end result is that they did not do what they needed to do, said Bliss, 47, of Gloucester Township. “To see it unravel so quickly is just a sad thing to watch.”
Bliss was deployed to Kabul, where he helped improve the area near the international airport, where thousands are now scrambling to get flights out of Afghanistan. He also did a tour in Jalalabad, one of the last cities to fall to the Taliban.
Now an administrator at Solid Rock Baptist Church in Berlin, Bliss wants to refrain from harsh judgment on whether American forces should have been withdrawn. The thought, he says, has crossed his mind.
“When you take a look at the total photo,” Bliss stated, “you can’t help but wonder if the effort is worth it? Our goal did not leave and let it collapse.”
Several veterans of the war revealed remorses for those left, those they ‘d made pledges to assist.
Anthony McCloskey invested 13 months in the nation as a Navy minor officer, superior, and felt when he got home in 2007 that he had actually made a distinction.
“I helped create a program to teach Afghan women to read,” stated McCloskey, 42, a Comcast director of cybersecurity. “We started getting Afghan women in classrooms. … All of that will be swiftly wiped away. It makes me feel awful.”