WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - The fall of Afghanistan has many U.S. veterans who fought there struggling to process what’s happened.
"I did a tour over there. My friends did tours over there. I’ve lost people that I’ve known," Chad Wendolek told FOX 5.
Wendolek spent nearly a year in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army and says he’s been watching the nonstop coverage of the Taliban takeover.
"The sights at the airport. I’ve been there. It’s just sad to see the people and the chaos that’s there. It’s even more shocking how fast that it did collapse and to see them come into these major cities that we fought so hard to take," Wendolek said.
Wendolek says it’s difficult to watch what’s happened following the removal of U.S. troops and he’s concerned about what will happen now that the Taliban has taken over.
"The presence of the U.S. there allowed them and their families to experience freedoms and things they never had before. That kind of stuff I fear is going to get wiped off of the map and get reset back probably even worse than it was when we first showed up in 2000," Wendolek said..
"Right now the military community, they’re suffering," Olivia Nunn, a U.S. Army Veteran told FOX 5’s Natalie Rubino.
Nunn spent time in the middle east but most recently was focused on helping combat veterans when they returned home.
"A lot of my friends have physically shed blood there. Some of them haven’t returned. There’s so much complex emotion about what they’re feeling. Was the mission worth it or not worth it," she said.
Nunn is concerned about veteran suicide and is encouraging everyone to look out for their military loved ones.
"You heard about 22 a day. Now more than ever you need to reach out. Physically go check on your neighbor. Do the neighborly thing. Go check on that veteran. Make sure that they’re ok," she said.
Wendolek says he doesn’t regret his time serving in Afghanistan although he does believe removing all U.S. troops was a mistake.
"My opinion is that we should have stayed with some presence like we did in Germany and South Korea. Just in case things did get bad, we’d have a quick turnaround to support any operations that we needed to," he said.
Wendolek also said he believes the sacrifices U.S. troops made for the country did make an overall difference.
"I’m glad that I served. I’m glad that I went over there. I don’t regret it at all," he said.
President Biden spoke directly to veterans during part of his speech, Monday saying he knows this is deeply personal for many of them but added he cannot justify sending countless troops to Afghanistan to fight the country’s civil war when Afghan troops will not.