SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Democrats are responding to renewed chaos in Afghanistan with calls of concern for distraught Utah veterans and support for Afghan refugees.
In a statement released Thursday, members of the Utah Democratic Party’s Veteran’s Caucus called recent news and images of the Taliban take-over in Afghanistan “horrific.”
“It’s critical to recognize that there are many within our military and veterans communities who are now grieving,” according to Democrat officials. “(They are) dealing with a flood of emotions while trying to process the events of the last few days against the last two decades of operations in that country.
“For many (veterans and service members), this pain is only compounded by bitter memories of sacrifice and loss within our community.”
This latest crisis in Afghanistan was created by President Joe Biden’s recent precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from that nation, leaving thousands of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies to the mercies of triumphant Taliban terrorists.
In the midst of these tragic developments, Democratic officials are advising that friends and neighbors should check in on veterans and members of Utah’s military community who may be struggling with the emotional toll of the recent news.
“For those who are hurting right now,” the Democratic statement read, “please know that you are not alone. Your sacrifices and efforts do matter and are not wasted. What you are experiencing is legitimate. The grief is real, but you do not have to deal with it alone.”
The Democrats advise that veterans and service members in crisis or family members, friends or neighbors concerned about them should call the National Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255. Chat options can also be accessed online at www.veteranscirsisonline.net
Maj. Gen. Michael J. Turley of the Utah National Guard echoed the Democrats’ concerns in an Aug. 18 message intended to console his troops as disaster unfolds in Afghanistan.
“Since that tragic September day nearly 20 years ago,” Turley said, “the Utah National Guard has sent thousands of dedicated service members (overseas) to ensure that we would never experience another 9/11 … Although we would have preferred a different outcome (in Afghanistan), we would like to focus on the fact that the primary mission of the U.S. armed forces engaging in the Global War on Terror has been to keep America safe, preserve our way of life and prevent another terrorist attack on our soil.
“We have been successful in that mission and faithful in that duty.”
The Utah adjutant general acknowledged that many veterans are now facing a “roller-coaster ride of emotions” brought on by the ultimate Taliban victory in Afghanistan.
“Just like we were there for each other during the past 20 years,” Turley counseled, “we must be there for each other now. We ask you to talk about your experiences and what you are feeling with your teammates or any of the Utah National Guard, military or veteran affairs resources that are available to you.”
The Democratic statement also applauded Gov. Spencer Cox’ recent commitment to welcome refugees from Afghanistan to Utah, especially those who supported U.S. troops as translators and guides.
Utah Republicans are meanwhile engaged in more direct efforts to assist U.S. citizens and Afghan allies now trapped in that beleaguered country.
GOP senators Mile Lee and Mitt Romney said Thursday that their staff members are jointly working around the clock to facilitate the evacuation of U.S. and Afghan citizens.
Romney also accused the Biden administration of attempting to “defend the indefensible” by trying to explain away the unfolding disaster in Afghanistan.
Romney argued that U.S. civilians and our Afghan allies should have been withdrawn first, followed by U.S. military forces.
In the wake of the debacle created by Biden’s ill-conceived troop withdrawal, Lee and Romney said that the White House “must now do everything it can to bring U.S. citizens home and safely evacuate Afghan allies, many of whom have risked their lives to help American forces during the past 20 years.”