Ten years ago today, I was glued to CNN as reports of air attacks on the Taliban were coming in. Images of explosions with night vision filters replaced comedy bits on The Daily Show and reruns of The Simpsons. I was a junior in high school but felt my real place was on the battlefield.

I remember the optimism of those times. We were striking back after the attacks on September 11 with a sense of purpose. Our last war in the Middle East stunned the world with its ease and quickness. A few mujahedeen hiding in caves were no match for an American military force. It was even possible the war would be over by the time I could join.

Little did I know, it would keep going for 10 more years. I would never get my chance to go (Iraq was my eventual destination), but hundreds of thousands of fellow Veterans have. It has gone from the “just” war to one that serves as a backdrop to debates over the defense budget and questions about future foreign policy. But those who humped the Hindu Kush know Afghanistan in a different way; as a place of defining moments, of close calls and howling laughter and crushing boredom. Their Afghanistan is not one the country knows. As Veterans return home and filter into classrooms and offices across the country, I hope that begins to change.

We mark a decade of continuous war, but the effects of it will be felt for decades more. Just as my grandfather deals with the effect of the Korean War today, Veterans will carry Afghanistan for the rest of their lives. Let’s ensure that we help carry it with them.

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Published on Oct. 7, 2011

Estimated reading time is 1.5 min.

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  2. Pattie Matheson October 15, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Alex, your writing gets better and better!

    The young man who went to war in Iraq returned a changed man. But you know that. The first words out of my mouth when I heard about the move into Iraq were “I wish he hadn’t done that.” Afghanistan made sense to me but Iraq did not. I love Bush the Younger as a person, but as a politician I’m really disappointed. I think the oil thing is just a red herring but doubt I’ll live long enough to read the back story.

    Just as you Grandfather deals with Korea, I think my father is finally dealing with Korea and Vietnam. He has cognitive impairment which may (probably) will lead to Alzheimer’s. He’s still at home which is how I know about his nightmares. Didn’t have them after either war. But now he rolls around aggressively striking out and yelling in his sleep. I think those memories must be dealt with somewhere along the line and I commend you and your compatriots for doing all you can to help the veterans of this war. They’re going to need it more than any generation before them.

    Keep up the good work “Dude” :-)


  3. Bob Mulholland October 8, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Obviously President Bush Jr, Vice President Cheney and their team had never read Sun Tzu Art of War or the history of what happened to the British in January of 1842, when 16,000 (4,500 troops and the rest civilians) of them decided to flee Afghanistan, after getting a “Peace” Agreement” to leave but they got ambushed and all died, except a British Army Surgeon, Dr William Brydon who lived to tell the story. A story that the Soviets ignored when they went into Afghanistan in 1979.

    • Martin Caraway October 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm

      I am pretty sure the the POTUS and VPOTUS had numerous people around them that were very well educated on the subject. Nobody ever said that this was going to be a short mission. The point of the invasion and the battles which ensued is that, we were attacked on our home soil, which is not tolerated. The troops have endured many hardships, have maintained their composure under stress.
      But I ask this of you to maintain support for the DVA while they embark on a proactive approach to supporting our war fighters.

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