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Veteran says it’s time to leave Afghanistan and save lives

FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2017, file photo, American soldiers wait on the tarmac in Logar...
FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2017, file photo, American soldiers wait on the tarmac in Logar province, Afghanistan. With American troops withdrawing from Afghanistan, pressure has been mounting for the Biden administration to plan a military evacuation of Afghans who supported U.S. military operations during two decades of war in their country.(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)
Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 4:21 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - After 20 years in Afghanistan, U.S. military troops are coming home. The Biden administration says plans are already 90 percent completed for having the withdrawal by the end of August.

The move has drawn criticism from former President George W. Bush as the Taliban gains ground in the country. But one Wisconsin veteran who completed three tours says now is the time to come home.

Life changed here in America on September 11, 2001. Sam Rogers knew he wanted to be part of the response. “Try to be a part of sending that message that we will never accept people coming here to harm innocent people in our country,” Rogers says.

He remembers, “When I graduated at 17, I had to wait a semester to turn 18 because my mom wouldn’t sign the waiver for me to join the Army.”

Rogers did three tours in Afghanistan. “It’s kind of like time stops while you’re there,” he said.

Some of his friends have completed ten combat tours over the past 20 years. Some others never made it home.

“My first tour in 2009, 2010, we had 40 soldiers killed -- excuse me,” Rogers said, then he continued, “We had 40 soldiers killed, over 350 casualties, amputees, probably three dozen suicides.”

Rogers says the suicides haven’t slowed down. “The suicides from that single deployment continue on to this day.”

He himself, contemplating it.

“We’ll never even be able to measure the amount of people like myself who, you know, contemplated or are on the verge.”

Rogers says he’s tired of the funerals. “I’m tired of feeling like it’s over and then having more funerals,” he expressed.

Which is one of many reasons this former military intelligence officer supports the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“Perpetuated conflict has not made us demonstrably safer.”

Rogers says everything they were asked to do over in Afghanistan, they accomplished within months of arriving.

“It was supposed to be a violent response to the September 11 terrorist attacks,” to punish the Taliban and al-Qaeda, he said. “And at some point, you know, the Congress kind of took their hands off the wheel and, and once you know the bureaucracy of the military decided what we were doing, so it changed a lot.”

He says to compare the military work in Afghanistan to other countries in the past, like Korea, Japan or Germany, isn’t fair.

“The difference there is that the public was invested in rebuilding those countries and reforming those countries to prevent, you know, this is you know this is fascism. But this in Afghanistan, this nation building is something that the American people never agreed to.”

So he hopes the withdrawal sparks a new conversation about the role of the military in the future.

And he wants to make it very clear, by withdrawing troops now doesn’t make those who died there any less heroic.

“At the end of the day the, you don’t honor Gold Star mothers by making more Gold Star mothers.”

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

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Winnebago County Crisis Intervention Center: (920) 233-7707

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