Editorial: Remember our military as Afghanistan war ends

A recent editorial by the Newark Advocate:

Never forget.

It’s a phrase that was often said after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. Some said it to remember who committed the atrocities of that day. Others said it to remember the feeling of unity in America after she was struck by an external enemy.

Over the years, the phrase was used again and again — on seemingly less and less important things. Truthfully, it nearly lost all meaning.

But as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of those attacks, it is important to reclaim that phrase and never forget the brave men and women who served in foreign countries fighting an almost unwinnable war against the nebulous “terror.”

It is especially important to never forget as the war in Afghanistan comes to an inglorious ending.

Last Sunday, Craig McDonald detailed the stories and feelings of several local veterans who fought on the front lines.

These men, who lost years away from loved ones and lost friends permanently, were left to ponder if their sacrifices had been worth it as the Taliban reclaimed the country.

Their responses were blunt:

— It feels like defeat.

— To be perfectly frank, I did not believe it was worthwhile while we there.

— Was it worth it? That’s a question I struggle to answer in the affirmative.

— It’s not in our best interest to stay in Afghanistan forever … But the way we’re pulling out? Horrible execution, horrible planning.

These feelings are not unique. Everyone touched by this war is probably having thoughts of a similar nature. And regardless of your politics or feelings on how the war ended, we should be united in supporting those who did their best in the most difficult of circumstances to represent America.

Many have compared the end of Afghanistan to the end of Vietnam. What we must not allow to happen is for those who served in Afghanistan to face the same fate at home as their Vietnam predecessors.

Fortunately, we believe that will not be the case. Most people are able to distinguish having concerns about a war while also wanting to provide support to our warriors so they can better re-integrate into society.

Unfortunately, there is still much to be done to ensure the safety of our veterans at home. In 2018, an average of 17.8 veterans died by suicide each day in the United States. The troubling end of the Afghanistan conflict could increase the mental stresses they face.

That is why it is important for all of us to play a part in their recovery. It could be as simple as thanking them for their service, asking if they wish to talk and most importantly listening if they do. If a veteran is struggling, please direct them to the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255.

… We would add that people do their homework before donating money to support our veterans. Unfortunately, some people will try to take advantage of any tragedy, so be sure your money is going to legitimate organizations.

Our veterans are worth the effort, let’s make sure they are not forgotten.

— Newark Advocate, Sept. 5