The month of March brought a massive surge in calls, texts, and chats to the Veterans Crisis Line. According to a report from NBC News, over 88,000 contacts were received, and this marks a 28% surge since the peak in the first year of the pandemic and 15% higher than in August 2021 when the US left Afghanistan.
In year-over-year data, they went from 775,000 in 2020 to 896,000 in 2022 according to VA statistics. In a statement, the VA refused to acknowledge the correlation and causation. With “no particular data that can be pointed to in order to fully explain the increases.” Instead, they suggested a combination of factors was at play, including outreach campaigns and the start of the new 988 crisis line phone number.
Trying to take the credit instead of assessing blame is the way the VA has spun this story to make themselves sound competent as well as in complimenting their liberal leadership.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) conducted their own survey about trauma among veterans about Afghanistan. With 49% reporting traumatic feelings revolving around the failed withdrawal, the reality on the ground is different than the VA is reporting. For many, watching the failure in Afghanistan caused a lot of the same grief as reported by Vietnam vets.
Many report feeling lost about how to deal with the loss of their brothers and sisters in arms, as well as their own psychological trauma from what went on over there. These feelings only become compounded when they hear the stories of their fellow warfighters as well as seeing the realities of the way the VA “cares.” This care is rarely better than the bare minimum, and many just can’t deal with it.
What complicates this, even more, is the push by elected officials to proclaim that President Biden was forced to withdraw from Afghanistan due to commitments by President Trump, as well as the failure to pay attention to the conditions on the ground. In their eyes, bad intel didn’t predict just how quickly the country would fall to the Taliban.
This poor intel claim is one of the most infuriating points. Given all the blue-on-green attacks by Taliban sympathizers on US troops inside Afghanistan bases, the running away on first contacts with enemy troops, and the corruption inside the government, anyone who had ever put on a uniform knew it would fall. Anyone who thought differently couldn’t pour piss out of a boot with instructions written on the sole.
Enter John Kirby.
The spokesman for the Biden administration spent 28 years in uniform as an officer in the US Navy, and yet a fine example of a typical officer saw no issue with the withdrawal. While speaking with the press and listing off the requirements for the mission to be a success, he said “For all this talk of chaos, I just didn’t see it!” This claim is one of someone who cannot see the truth of the situation.
Despite having the highest of security clearances, Kirby couldn’t see fit to study the withdrawal of Afghanistan. To read the firsthand accounts of the suicide bomber who killed 13 Americans and dozens of Afghanis, to study the security evidence, or even talk to the independent veterans who came back to bring out their interpreters and their families.
Being disregarded by the very people who claim to represent them is hard enough for veterans. Many broken promises by the government only add insult to injury, especially when so many of their brothers and sisters laid down their lives there. This has been driving the increase in suicidal thoughts for many veterans.
If they researched these programs more than they did exiting Afghanistan, they would see the big push veteran’s groups on social media are making to save these veterans. Reconnecting with surviving members of their unit is a huge help. Coming together after having to suffer with the feelings of loss when one punches their ticket gets them to reach out for that help. Perhaps if they put boots on the ground veterans in leadership positions we can get them the help they need.