The United States sacrificed 2,448 American soldiers in the war against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan before exiting the country on August 20, 2021, after a 20-year-long occupation. The withdrawal of the US troops from the “Graveyard of Empires” was disappointing for all the veterans and their families who served in the war or lost their loved ones to it.
On Monday, August 17, 2021, the press release broke the news of the United States exiting the war against terrorism in Afghanistan and handing over the country to Taliban rule. The VA and the Veterans’ Group released statements after the press conference, encouraging active duty and former service members to reach out to their comrades and family members shocked by the news that completely disregarded their sacrifices.
VA officials stated that the US forces withdrawal might affect many people mentally, causing them moral distress. They may start questioning their time spent and all the sacrifices to ensure the war against terrorism was successful.
Many veteran organizations came together and asked active and former service members to check in on their colleagues. The distressing images of the Afghanis clinging onto the last C-17 airplane departing from the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul for the United States could cause enough stress, sadness, and anxiety, resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mental Health Services urged individuals experiencing symptoms of PTSD to seek emergency mental health care.
VA officials, in a release, also mentioned that the organization had allocated resources to veterans experiencing a crisis. Individuals can join support groups offering long-term help for Afghanistan veterans and families, including online social network veteran groups.
Due to the veterans’ reactions after the Afghanistan events, the Department of Veterans Affairs and other non-profit organizations are providing resources, peer support, and community services to all veterans to help them cope with the situation.
You may feel that your service or sacrifice doesn’t mean anything, and you’re not alone. You may find it challenging to manage feelings of anxiety, stress, sadness, or frustration. During this time, more than ever, it is crucial to consider how your service made a difference to your life and those around you. What you’re experiencing is just one moment in time but know that slowly it will get better.
Here are some strategies suggested by the Department of Veterans Affairs to help you cope with your emotions about your service and the time you spent in Afghanistan.
Instead of thinking that your service in Afghanistan was useless, think positive. Think about all the lives you protected in Afghanistan and how your service helped the country.
To get your mind off negative thoughts, engage in positive activities that you enjoy doing. Even if you don’t like engaging in activities, push through and give it a go.
Those suffering from mental disorders must stay connected with their friends and family members. Meaningful connections with the people you love can make you feel calm, happy, and motivated.
Take some time to focus on your mental well-being by following strategies that help you cope with situations. Practicing breathing techniques is a great way to bring a little calmness to your life.
Feelings of depression can be a real downer, but don’t let that affect your schedule. Sticking to a routine can help prevent negative thoughts.
Sitting in front of your TV and listening to the news all day long can further add to your distress. Take your mind off the news and shift to entertaining media instead.
The VA website has many self-help apps for iOS and Android users, helping them cope with stress, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Some apps include Mindfulness Coach, PTSD Coach, Caring4WomenVeterans, ACT Coach, and many more.
The challenges you faced during your service in Afghanistan and how you overcame them can also help you overcome what you’re feeling today. Your sadness, depression, or frustration is just another obstacle waiting for you to conquer. For help with claims and lawsuits under PACT Act, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation with our legal experts.
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.