We could discuss the horrible images about Afghans clinging to AF planes in Kabul. We could reflect about how much our efforts were minimized, even erased by Taliban takeover. We could add to the critique of President Biden and the ill-equipped administration. We could waste time evaluating the politics of it all — Left vs. Right and their extreme political spin. More importantly, we could discuss the dire need of evacuating all Americans & vulnerable Afghans who have become our allies.
However, we will not spend time talking about any of that, because those issues are being covered by many “talking heads” and media outlets.
What is not being discussed enough right now? Our war veterans are being haunted by their trauma, Afghanistan is their trigger and it’s vital that every American knows what they can do to support them.
Here are a few ways that you can support our veterans as some are triggered by the unfolding events in Afghanistan:
Try to see the world through their eyes. Obviously, you can’t fully understand it if you haven’t served, but a metaphor may help you walk down the path of empathy which can be helpful connecting with veterans. Imagine you had dedicated your life to a highly purposeful, 20-year career trying to accomplish a few objectives that you believed in. And then, in a matter of days, that career and all of the people connected to it and influenced by it, were erased or destroyed.
Reach out to veterans you know and offer non-judgmental support. Translation: actively listen to how they are doing right now, avoid giving unsolicited advice, and do not start political conversations.
Be aware of some helpful resources for veterans. In the event that the military member does ask for help or resources, offer it to them. In addition to the local Veterans Affairs hospital, here are some good ones: Veteran’s 24-Hour Crisis Line (800-273-8255), Give an Hour (https://giveanhour.org; therapists provide a free hour of therapy to veterans), and the Wounded Warrior Project — Atlanta office (404-974-9234).
Dr. Keith Myers