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We’re still fighting in Afghanistan and no one cares
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
This essay was first published in 2016 and is being reposted for the 18th anniversary of the start of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan.
I remember reading George C. Herring's book America's Longest War when I was studying history as an undergrad and couldn't wrap my head around how the conflict in Vietnam could have gone on as long as it did. I naively assured myself that despite how horrific the toll of that war was, at least we had learned from our mistakes and would never let that happen again. I couldn't have been more wrong.
Today, Oct. 7, marks the anniversary of combat operations in Afghanistan, which is now our longest war to date, and other than a select few who bear the brunt of this burden, most people won't think twice about this somber and embarrassing anniversary.
Nothing could be more insulting to the troops currently serving.
I used to empathize with the public in previous years for not paying attention to the war in Afghanistan because there were so many other things going on: the war in Iraq, the worst recession since the Great Depression, threats of climate change, and myriad other things that dominate headlines. Those days are gone, however, and the empathy has run out. It's now time to quantify what another year in combat means to the brave women and men still serving in Afghanistan and stop neglecting our New Greatest Generation of warfighters.
So what is another year in combat? Well, it depends on who you ask. If you ask the spouse of someone serving, it's yet another increase in your chances of developing a mental-health problem — a topic largely ignored. If you are the child of someone serving, it's celebrating another birthday or holiday worrying about your mom or dad overseas. And if you were one of the brave citizens who decided to make the military a career after the Sept. 11 attacks, you are one of the few people who have served on an unprecedented number of deployments, a toll that no other generation of warfighters has ever known.
This burden falls cruelly on a disproportionate number of citizens —- something we've never asked such small number of people to endure. And how do we repay these service members and their families? By neglecting them and the issues that affect them. We do live in a post-9/11 world, though, as the years pass, that seems to hold less weight. Some would argue that this is the price we pay for keeping our country safe. However, the literal "price" paid is something that needs to be addressed immediately.
Why are we spending $43 million dollars on a gas station or $335 million on an electric plant in Afghanistan that nobody is using when the brave women who return from Afghanistan don't have the quality care they deserve? How did a war that was originally sold to us for a cost of "something under $50 billion" turn into a $6 trillion fiasco? Is this the best way to spend trillions of dollars, especially when just $30 billion could be used to solve the world's food crisis? I'd like to have that discussion, but it's nearly impossible when an apathetic attitude toward this war permeates our national dialogue. If it's not about Trump and Clinton's latest scandal, then no one is interested.
Marines kneel down beside the battlefield cross to pay their final respects to Sgt. Bradley Atwell during a memorial ceremony, Sept. 20, 2012(U.S. Marine Corps photo)
I could go on for ages about how disappointed I am in our country's leaders for allowing this to happen, and still haven't even discussed the mental health problems emerging from modern drone warfare, the moral injuries caused by having friends deploy without you, the objective risks of blowback from our policies in the region, or the psychological toll our actions in Afghanistan must take on the innocent civilians there, but am afraid that these complaints will fall on deaf ears.
We went into Afghanistan as a direct response for the attacks on 9/11, but considering far too many Americans have forgotten the event we said we never would, it's all too likely that they will continue to forget about the war it started.
I, on the other hand, will continue to serve my fellow veterans when they return home and will do whatever I can to shed light on the individual acts of courage they continue to display for a country that has, for the most part, forgotten about them.
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With his typical dramatic flourish, Trump recounted the scene as he monitored the strikes from the White House Situation Room when Soleimani was killed.
The U.S. Navy will name its fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier after Doris Miller, an iconic World War II sailor recognized for his heroism during the Pearl Harbor attack, according to reports in The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and U.S. Naval Institute News.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly is expected to announce the naming of CVN-81 during a ceremony on Monday in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, according to USNI. Two of Miller's nieces are expected to be there, according to the Star-Advertiser.
Two immigrants, a pastor and an Army sergeant have been convicted of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud as part of an illegal immigration scheme, according to federal prosecutors.
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The conspiracy involved obtaining immigration benefits for Rajesh Ramcharan, Diann Ramcharan, and one of their minor children, the release said. A married couple in 2007 came to the U.S. from Trinidad and Tobago on visitor visas. They overstayed the visas and settled in Colorado.
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Iran's Tasnim news agency also reported the authorities were prepared for experts from France, Canada and the United States to examine information from the data and voice recorders of the Ukraine International Airlines plane that came down on Jan. 8.
The plane disaster, in which all 176 aboard were killed, has added to international pressure on Iran as it grapples with a long running row with the United States over its nuclear program that briefly erupted into open conflict this month.