Local veterans say Afghanistan withdrawal was a mess

Posted at 6:02 PM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 00:05:03-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Local veterans are frustrated with how the Afghanistan withdrawal was carried out.

People were running for their lives desperately trying to get away from the Taliban over the weekend. Some of them died as they tried to hang onto aircraft and leave the country. It only took days for the Taliban to take back the country when troops started leaving.

Now, some veterans are wondering if their sacrifices were worth it. Lee Highsmith said, "Why did we miss our family time? Why did we miss our kid being born? Why do other families not have their mom, dad, brother, sister, anymore?”

The Fort Campbell veteran is frustrated that Afghan soldiers didn't stay and fight for their own. Highsmith said, “Despite what the Taliban government is trying to say, they’re ‘going to try to do better and stuff, those ones that have been there and seen it firsthand, we know better.”

As a veteran, Congressman Mark Green wants to tell veterans their sacrifice kept the U.S. safe after 9/11. Green said, "For 20 years we bought freedom from a terrorist attack."

He said the withdrawal was not well planned. Green said, "and to think this is the way it ended-- with the humiliation of the United States."

He said morale is low in the military community as the Taliban takes over in Afghanistan. "I’ve talked to guys who are clearly contemplating the unthinkable. They’re looking at their friend's sacrifice, saying what was it all for?"

For veterans who need to talk to someone as emotions swirl, they can go to Reboot Recovery. MTSU also has the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center with on-site counseling.

Veteran Doug Englen took part in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. "I have lost the best of friends over there," Englen said.

He said while it’s time to close this chapter, the government’s priority should be getting servicemen and women out safely. "Let’s take care of today’s fight. Let’s make sure they’re safe, and then let’s worry about what we could have done better," Englen said.