Taliban takes over Afghani government— Mount Pisgah responds

Danaye Martin, News Editor

Suppose you have lived your entire life enjoying the freedom of speech, religion, and press that we are granted here in America. Then one day, someone new takes over and all of these rights are taken away. Now imagine you were one of the people sent to protect those rights, and now you have to leave just to have things go back to the way they were before you arrived. This is in many ways what is happening to the citizens of Afghanistan and the troops who recently withdrew from their base.

The U.S first entered Afghanistan on September 11th, 2001; more commonly known as 9/11. For twenty years the U.S army has occupied Afghanistan, making this the longest-lasting war in American history.

While most people are aware of the U.S’ recent decision to pull out of Afghanistan, they may not know the effect it is having on the people of Afghanistan as well as the veterans/ actively serving members of the military that served there.

On April 14, 2021, President Biden announced that the U.S. forces will withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11. On July 2 the army offi cially pulled out from their base at Bagram, making this the longest-lasting war in U.S. history.

The Taliban seized Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, almost immediately following the U.S’ abrupt withdrawal. On August 26, the Islamic State launched a suicide bomb in the Kabul airport, unfortunately killing many civilians and 13 U.S. troops.

While these events have recently been spreading throughout the media, many people may not be aware of the eff ect it is having on veterans and actively serving members of the military or the civilians that currently reside in the Middle East.

Citizens in the Middle East experienced rights and freedoms under U.S. protection that will most likely be stripped of them now that the Taliban is in power.

Middle school faculty and head wrestling coach Joshua Merry, who is currently serving in the U.S. Army reserves, was recently deployed in November of 2020 and returned home this past June. While stationed in Kuwait, they sent troops to other countries in the Middle East, such as Afghanistan. Merry himself went in and out of Iraq.

“When we were outside the base, we were discouraged [from] interacting with the locals because, unfortunately, we didn’t know their intent,” said Merry in regards to the locals.

However, he did mention the few locals that the troops were able to interact with.

“The subcontractors; a lot of them are the locals that will come onto the base and work… you get to know some of them.”

Merry described how hard it may be for the civilians who still reside in Afghanistan.

“I feel for the women and children over there. You know, you have women that over the last 20 years they’ve been given rights that they’ve never had. And all of a sudden… all those rights are gonna be stripped away. Same with Christians. They could practice freely, and there was no persecution. But unfortunately, now, there will be if they’re caught.”

Not only is this transition difficult for the civilians, but it is taking a toll on the mental health of veterans and actively serving members of the military. According to the Daily Beast, the Veterans Crisis Line – a national suicide prevention lifeline run by the US Department of Veterans Affairs – has received a 17 percent increase in calls compared to last year.

Kathryn Weston, a freshman here at Pisgah, has multiple veterans in her family, as well as a cousin who is currently serving in the military.

“It hurts their service,” Weston said. “Especially my cousin who’s currently serving because it made morale on the base really low. It’s resulting in a lot of general anger and sadness for the people left there.”

Merry had a similar point of view. “They [vets] question, ‘was it worth going over there and doing the things they had to do’.”

According to Merry and Weston, veterans are now having to question whether they made any difference in the lives of the Afghan people. Not only did they give their time and service, but so many of them gave their lives.

“We keep saying that number; 13, 13,” Merry adds in regard to the 13 troops recently killed. “But people forget that we had over 2,000 troops die in Afghanistan, and a couple more thousand have died in Iraq over the 20-year war.” Veterans and actively serving members of the U.S. military are feeling very conflicted.

Having to question whether the sacrifices you made were worthwhile is a difficult thing for a person to go through. “I was gone from my wife and kid for 7 months,” Merry expresses. “We never saw each other in person for 7 months. When they [soldiers] come back [from serving], you just gotta be there for them.” Currently, the U.S. military is attempting to evacuate as many American citizens and Afghan partners from Afghanistan as possible. The question remains of whether we “won” the war. “If we were to ‘win’ [the war], it would probably be similar to a WWII ending,” Merry claims. “A lot of civilians would die and a lot of military people would die on both sides. We’d have to take over that country. Is that our place to do?”

While we may not have any definitive answers to these questions, we as citizens can show support for veterans in many different ways. Reaching out to veterans or soldiers in your community can help. Or even posting on social media to spread awareness is a great way to show that their service is appreciated.

“If you have any veterans in your family,” Weston adds. “Please try to help them out and let them know their service was worthwhile.”