‘Completely unacceptable’

VFW sounds off about events surrounding Afghanistan withdrawal

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A photo display at Cullman’s VFW Post honored the 13 American warriors killed in an Aug. 26 suicide attack in Kabul. (Photo courtesy of VFW Post 2214)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Biden administration’s rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan has drawn strong reactions across the country. The disaster at Kabul’s international airport, resulting in 13 American deaths, drew stronger responses, as did the Aug. 31 departure that left behind an unknown number of Americans and allies and billions in military equipment. 

  

For Cullman Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2214 Commander Brian Monk, the end of the 20-year conflict was welcome, but not the way it happened. 

  

“My opinion is yes it was time for it to end, but the way it was done was wrong,” said Monk in summary of his feelings. “You never, and I say never, leave an American behind.” 

  

Monk explained, “We will always have to have a military presence in countries that we have gone to war with and that still pose a terrorist threat to the American people. The way we left was completely un-American and any veteran will tell you that! The equipment that was left can be used against us, and our so-called leadership knew that but yet, did nothing!  

  

Additionally, added Monk, “The way they flew people into the USA and not really knowing if they are good or bad can cause a really big problem in the near future.” 

  

The commander called the leaving of Americans and allies in Afghanistan “completely unacceptable,” adding, “This has set off the PTSD and anxiety of so many veterans to where they are wanting to find a plane and go back and help, which causes problems with their families. So many things could have been done differently, but wasn’t.” 

  

Monk concluded, “The VFW as a whole is not happy about any of it.” 

National VFW responds 

  

VFW National Commander Fritz Mihelcic focused on supporting Afghan War veterans, issuing this statement: 

  

“With the recent turn of events in Afghanistan, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) wants the veterans of the war in Afghanistan to know we stand with you. Scores of VFW members know the anger, frustration and sadness you are experiencing after hearing the troubling reports and seeing the disturbing images coming from lands where we sacrificed so much. From the fall of Saigon in Vietnam, to the withdraw from Somalia after the battle of Mogadishu, to the ISIS take-over of Fallujah, Ramadi, Mosul and Tikrit, far too many of us have experienced the heavy burden of loss, disappointment and helplessness our newest generations of veterans may be feeling watching the Taliban return to power. 

  

“However, while there is bitter sentiment over this withdrawal, we encourage you to hold your head high. Because of your vigilance, hard work and selfless sacrifice, you dealt a tremendous blow to Al-Qaeda, taking out its leader Osama Bin Laden, and disrupting its ability to plan and execute another major attack on American soil since September 11, 2001. You who served in Afghanistan with honor, valor, and distinction, our nation owes you a tremendous debt of gratitude for the past 20 years of relative safety and security. Your service was not in vain. 

  

“While we continue to watch events unfold in Afghanistan, we remind our brothers and sisters that we are beside you, arm-in-arm, ready to support you. You are not alone. 

  

“Please know that through the Department of Veterans Affairs, the VFW, and other non-profit organizations, there are people you or a battle buddy can talk to and resources available to help cope with the stress of the situation.” 

Alabama VFW responds 

The VFW Department of Alabama issued this statement: 

“Respectful but Accountable:  

“We honor the service and sacrifice of all veterans. Our Hearts go out to the brave warriors and family of those who lost their lives in the recent crisis in Afghanistan. Our prayers are for them, their families, their Afghan allies and the Afghan civilians so tragically lost. We will never forget the sacrifices they made in service and support to our great country. We will be here for every veteran that is dealing with the ongoing human cost of this conflict. Our veterans will not be alone as the VFW stands strong and here to help.” 

Monk told The Tribune, “We as veterans have to stand together now more than ever!” 

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com