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Wisconsin Veteran Reflects On America's Role In Afghanistan

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Andrew Renneisen
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U.S. service members arriving at Camp Bost in Helmand Province, Afghanistan to provide support for local Afghan security forces in 2017.

To some, the images of Kabul, Afghanistan echo the fall of Saigon. People crowding into airports and airplanes, desperate to escape a country where most young people can’t remember a time before the war, which began nearly 20 years ago. Although some Americans believe we should have left long ago, the crisis emerging in Afghanistan raises concerns about what will become of the nation.

Wisconsinite Sam Rogers has firsthand knowledge of what this conflict has looked like on the ground. He served three tours in Afghanistan and he’s now the coalitions director for Concerned Veterans for America in Wisconsin. "We have all the time in the world after this has been accomplished to criticize and dissect how this was handled tactically but the key is we have to get out of this country," Rogers says. "We have to get our American men and women in uniform and our allies out of this country safely and that's what I care about the most."

Rogers joined Concerned Veterans for America at the end of 2019. Since then, he's advocated for the U.S. to disengage in Afghanistan saying, "It has been objectively unsustainable, and we have been continuing to build a force there that cannot sustain itself, which means we have to stay there forever, unless something changes."

Rogers doesn't point to any one person who he thinks should be held accountable for the situation in Afghanistan. He says there are a lot of people who have ownership of the conflict but blame should not be placed on veterans. "When they don't take ownership of the policy failures that led to this twenty year stretch, veterans start to look inward and they start to place blame on themselves and wonder if their service and sacrifice meant anything," Rogers notes.

One thing Rogers is looking forward to is the welcoming of Afghanistan Refugees to Wisconsin. "I am personally pleased that they are trying to bring the families and folks of those who served alongside us...We're in Wisconsin, we have a rich history in our state of taking on the families and service members of militaries that fought alongside us in other campaigns and conflicts, it's a part of who we are as a state," Rogers says.

The Wisconsin Secretary of Veterans Affairs released a statement addressing veterans concerns about what's happening in Afghanistan, you can read that at here.

Joy Powers hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2016.
Kobe Brown is WUWM's Eric Von fellow.
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