Afghanistan veterans may search for meaning following abrupt removal of troops

Written by on August 18, 2021

Afghanistan veterans may search for meaning following abrupt removal of troops

By Hayden Mitman

August 18, 2021

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, center, the commander of U.S. Central Command, meets with U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Peter Vasely, commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan-Forward, at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (Capt. William Urban/U.S. Navy via AP)

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – The rapid fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban surprised a lot of Americans. 

Listen to the story.

Thomas Applebach, director of Lehigh County’s Office of Veterans Affairs, said that those who have served in Afghanistan over the past two decades will need to grapple with one lingering question. 

“What the hell were we doing here and what did it all mean?” he asked.

Applebach served in Iraq during his 21 years in the military. He said watching the Taliban take Kabul had parallels to the end of the Vietnam War. 

“Things just happened a hell of a lot faster than they had a chance to wrap their hands around,” he said. “It is somewhat akin to the fall of Saigon only because it happened much faster than expected.”

Applebach said that he believes President Joe Biden made the right choice by taking the steps to end a war. 

He noted that any veteran struggling with meaning following the events in Afghanistan shouldn’t hesitate to reach out. 

“Talk about it, you know? Be safe, be smart,” Applebach said.

The number for the Veterans Crisis Line is 1-800-273-8255.

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