A salute to our Afghanistan veterans
Afghans (L) crowd at the airport as US soldiers stand guard in Kabul on August 16, 2021. (Photo by SHAKIB RAHMANI/AFP via Getty Images)

A salute to our Afghanistan veterans

Dear American Legion Family Members and Friends,

The Taliban are retaking control of Afghanistan at an alarming rate. It’s something generations of veterans have seen. A similar takeover occurred in Iraq. And we all know what happened in Vietnam. As a Vietnam veteran, I deeply empathize with today’s veterans who are witnessing this tragic turn of events.

But let me be 100 percent clear — the sacrifice, commitment and work by all of our men and women in uniform these past 20 years was worth it.

They kept our nation safe when many feared another attack.

They brought evil-doers to justice.

They delivered hope to war-torn nations.

Their courage, victories and selfless acts of service will not be washed away by history.

To all the men and women who served and made the world a better, safer and brighter place since the dark day of 9/11, I salute you.

As veterans, we have a unique perspective on what all of this means. The action we are seeing today is troubling on an international scale. But also troubling to veterans, especially those who served with honor since 9/11. They may be left questioning what all of this means. They may have trouble processing this turn of events as related to their service. They may experience feelings of depression. 

But we need to let them know that their service matters today and it will matter tomorrow.

I strongly encourage American Legion Family members to take this time to perform Buddy Checks on Afghanistan, Iraq and other veterans during this time. Reach out to your brothers and sisters in arms, and make sure they are doing OK and ask what they need.

As a refresher, Buddy Checks are wellness check-ins with veterans who may not seek the help they need on their own. To get started on a Buddy Check, please visit legion.org/membership/buddycheck

Additionally, you can also recommend that veterans seeking assistance could tap into VA's Vet Centers. Those are counseling centers that provide combat veteran to combat veteran counseling. To learn more, visit vetcenter.va.gov

Whether you are a Vietnam veteran, or one from the war on terror or another era, I thank you for your service. No matter when you served, your service mattered. And it’s what will allow freedom and democracy to continue.