By Jennifer Woolwine

War Veteran Reacts to the Crisis in Afghanistan

Military Veterans

baghdad to barnyard

August 17, 2021

Although I didn’t serve in Afghanistan, I was deployed to Iraq from October of 2004 to January of 2006 during Operation Enduring Freedom. Our unit’s mission was convoy security. We provided gun support for civilian and military contractors, and I was directly involved in combat several times. Unfortunately, I witnessed soldiers and friends who were seriously injured and those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Even though it was 16 years ago, I still remember my time in Iraq as if it was yesterday. That’s one thing about combat; it never leaves you. The current situation with troops’ withdrawal and the fall of Afghanistan is bringing many buried emotions and feelings to the surface.

My experience in Iraq + My reaction to Afghanistan

I recall my first interaction with Iraqi and Turkish civilians. We had just arrived in Mosul, Iraq, after providing gun support for a supply mission, and we had a few days of downtime before heading back to base. A group of us decided to walk down to the bazaar downtown, which is like a big flea market. I purchased candy to hand out to some of the children that had been following us since we arrived and quickly became overrun with hundreds of kids with their hands out begging for candy. One little girl held onto my hand for dear life, and even though I didn’t speak or understand Farsi, we could still communicate with our hands and facial expressions. That mission will always be one of my favorite deployment memories.


mosul mission 2004


iraq civilians 2004

Media

Watching the news can be difficult because you start thinking about how the war impacted your life and many others.  So many families have lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, and thousands and thousands of soldiers made it home physically but mentally left a piece of themselves overseas. All the soldiers that returned with injuries, all the families that didn’t survive multiple deployments, and all the loved ones that lost their significant other, brother, sister, father, mother, the list goes on and on. A war that lasted 20 years has affected so many, and watching news coverage of the current Afghanistan situation is heartbreaking, and you wonder if it was all worth it.

When you witness first-hand how horrific and heartless insurgents can be, it changes you. Seeing true evil and knowing what they are capable of, you can’t help but worry for the Afghan civilians, especially all the children. I feel devastated for the interpreters, translators, and support personnel who have worked alongside the United States for 20 years, that doesn’t have a way out and will become the Taliban’s next target.

Gratitude

Even though I experienced loss in Iraq and have mixed feelings about the war, it is also how I met my husband. We were fortunate to serve together and had each other to rely on, especially when we came home. So many veterans don’t have the benefit of knowing precisely what their significant other went through and healing together.


David in Kuwait.png

I’m grateful for the experience, and at times I miss it. I miss the camaraderie and feeling like I’m making a difference. My favorite memories include handing out supplies to children in Iraq and providing gun support so schools, hospitals, and roads could be built, impacting how they lived. So it’s hard to watch the news of the Taliban seizing Afghanistan. My heart goes out to Afghanistan, and all I can do is pray for them and pray for all the veterans and families that have sacrificed so much over the last twenty years.

Your thoughts

What do you think about the situation in Afghanistan? Please share your thoughts in the comments, or contact me via email. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog; I appreciate your support.

xo, Jen

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  1. Tracy Thomas says:

    I can’t even begin to imagine the life of a military member. The sights, the strain, the distance away from home and so much more! You saw alot at a young age! I’d like to think thst the U.S. being there DID make a difference for that time frame. Lots of lives were helped and guided to better times. It’s just unfortunate now that the tables turned that the old patterns are being repeated. It seems bleak. I pray to God it won’t all be in vain and something good can still come. I hope the U.S. Military Forces can step in and make decisions on combat and intelligence because it is definitely needed. And swiftly it needs to happen, time is of the utmost importance.
    Thank you for your service.

    • Thank you Tracy for taking the time to read my blog. It is such a sad situation. My brother in law is a pilot for the Navy and is currently deployed, I know it’s a scary time for so many. We just have to continue to pray for Afghanistan and rally behind our military right now. XOXO Jennifer

  2. Dee says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and your perspective. God bless you both and all who have served and are currently serving. I am heartbroken over what’s happening over in Afghanistan for the civilians and the many Americans that are still there and the dangerous situation that they have all found themself in it is beyond heartbreaking

    • Well thank you Dee for your kind words and support and for taking the time to read my blog. I appreciate it so much. It is definitely a stressful time for everyone right now, I can only imagine what the civilians in Afghanistan are going through, and it just makes you feel so helpless. All we can do is put our faith in God and continue to pray for everyone involved. XOXO Jennifer

  3. Janet says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts Jennifer. I can’t imagine what you and others have experienced, including my son in law who was deployed 4 times Our country owes you and I hope folks realize the sacrifice

    • Wow, four deployments!!! I know that must have been difficult being away from home so much. Please thank him for his service for me. I know military families realize the sacrifice, but I feel a lot of people still don’t have a clue. Unless they directly know someone that served, I don’t think they REALLY get it, even twenty years later. Thank you for your support and for taking the time to read my blog. I appreciate it so much! XOXO, Jennifer

  4. Stacey Rosado says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It’s such a hard thing to watch and feel like we should have done things differently but not having the power to make that change.

  5. Candi says:

    First I want to so Thank You. Right now I am completely speechless to what is happening in Afghanistan. My heart goes out to all the great people that worked with and beside the U.S. and I pray for them and all the families and innocent children. I also pray for our great soldiers that have sacrificed so much. You are loved and appreciated.

    • Thank you Candi. I appreciate your support so much. All we can do is pray for Afghanistan, it’s such a sad situation all around. Hope you have a blessed weekend my friend, and thank you for taking the time to read my blog!!!! XOXO, Jennifer

Jen Woolwine       Author

Jen is a veteran, wife, farm mama, homesteader, blogger,  and mental health advocate. You can follow her and daily homestead life on Instagram, FB, Pinterest & TikTok @baghdadtobarnyard

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