I am saddened that President Biden doubled down on his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in his speech to the Nation. We handed the Taliban the win and have only emboldened China, Russia and Iran. This action will lead to far more deaths and spent American treasure in the future.
I am not — and have never been — a supporter of withdrawing all of the troops who were in Afghanistan providing air and intelligence support to the Afghan fighters. This presence has been incredibly important to collecting the human intelligence necessary to keep America safe. Further, the major airbase built there provided us better capabilities to deal with threats from that region.
As we continue to watch heartbreaking images from Kabul, this Administration must first and foremost ensure the safe evacuation of US embassy staff, diplomats, American citizens, and our Afghan civilian allies in harm’s way. Given the current state of affairs, this is going to be an extremely difficult task putting many more troops in harms way than had we kept the small force we had it place.
Though the images on TV can easily lead one to think otherwise, those who served in Afghanistan during the course of the past 20 years need to know that their service was not in vain. Those who lost their lives or were injured in Afghanistan over the course of that period of time helped to achieve the mission of keeping America safe and prevented the next 9/11 — that, is for sure.
Veterans Seeking Help
The many current active duty servicemembers and veterans who may be struggling with the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan should know they are not alone. Please review and share the following resources if you, a loved one, or anyone you know who served needs help.
- Veterans Crisis Line: If you are having thoughts of suicide, call 1-800-273-8255, then PRESS 1 or visit veteranscrisisline.net/. For emergency mental health care, you can also go directly to your local VA medical center 24/7 regardless of your discharge status or enrollment in other VA health care.
- Vet Centers: Discuss how you feel with other veterans in these community-based counseling centers. 70 percent of Vet Center staff are veterans. Call 1-877-927-8387 or find one near you.
- VA Mental Health Services Guide: This guide will help you sign up and access mental health services.
- RallyPoint: Talk to other veterans online. Discuss: What are your feelings as the Taliban reclaim Afghanistan after 20 years of U.S. involvement?
- Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS): Request a Peer Mentor.
- VA Women Veterans Call Center: Call or text 1-855-829-6636 (M-F 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Eastern).
Assistance Evacuating Afghanistan as shared by the State Department to Members of Congress:
If you or anyone you know needs assistance in evacuating Afghanistan, please contact my office or review this information from the State Department. To receive assistance from the State Department, U.S. citizens must complete this Repatriation Assistance Request for each traveler in their group.
This form is the only way to communicate interest in flight options. The State Department will notify you directly by email based on your registration as soon as departure options become available.
(That above is from the State Department. Until the Biden Administration sends enough troops to secure roads and places stations around the country that folks can actually get to for the processing of their paperwork and provides transportation for them to get to the Kabul airport, it is going to be difficult for many to get out.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have called for an emergency meeting with top Biden Administration officials asking for the plan of action to get this achieved. That letter is included here.)