Springfield Army veteran says attack in Afghanistan is ‘devastating on all levels’

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 9:58 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - After an attack Thursday killed more than a dozen U.S. servicemen and at least 60 Afghans, Springfield veterans say the events unfolding in Afghanistan are “devastating on all levels.”

Many who served during the War on Terror say they cannot seem to grasp and understand what is happening.

“That is hard to process. That is hard to see,” said Springfield Army veteran Jonathan Garard, who served 15 years during the War on Terror. “I’ve seen a lot of death, but to see it again, crushes and breaks my heart.”

As word of American and Afghan casualties reached the United States, many military veterans like Garard have become filled with emotions ranging from sadness to frustration.

Garard and his brother served abroad for several years. His brother served in Afghanistan before he joined the military. After 9/11, Garard joined the Army and served in Iraq alongside his brother.

Garard said the events unfolding in Afghanistan are difficult to comprehend.

”There is no way to say this is successful, or this was meant to be,” he said. “Because when life is brutalized, when people die in this fashion, there is no choice we make that should allow for something like this to ever happen, especially under the name of the United States. Ever.”

Though the recent devastation in Afghanistan has been hard for vets like Garard to see, he said he still believes the 20 years of sacrifice was worth it.

”When you begin to evaluate what is something worth, when you look at 20 years, you look at how lives are taken and lost,” he said. “When you have a chance to ever defend that or to push it back, I will always take that and every other person that signed up to just say ‘hey, I will go I will defend.’ We did what was right. When you do what is right, you cannot question was it worth it.”

Gerard says the looming withdrawal date, only days away, poses many obstacles.

”I truly don’t believe we’re gonna make it to the 31st,” he said. “I believe that. I believe we don’t have enough control to make it to the 31st. And just because we say something, doesn’t mean it is actually possible. How do those people get from where they are safely to the point where they’re like, ‘Hey, I’m here. Take me home.’ That doesn’t work that way.”

As military and government efforts continue, he said many veterans have begun collaborating to find ways to help those they know who are stuck abroad.

”I hope Springfield understands there are people here right now in our community that have done more to save lives out of their living room than we will ever know,” he said.

Gerard said as the world watches, the events unwinding in Afghanistan will continue to leave a mark for a long time to come.

”The choices we make over the next few months, really the next few days, weeks and months, are going to set the tone for who we are as a nation,” he said. “Because what we’ve done to this point is not a reflection of the values that I thought we had, or the values that I raise my hand to defend. And I think it’s time to really dig deep and discover and identify, are we willing to take a very tough road ahead to do this?”

While Garard said 20 years may have been too long, he said he believes a chain of mistakes led to tragedies unfolding in Afghanistan. He said he believes the attack outside the Kabul airport could have been prevented.

“That decline in the past week and a half, is more than I think we fully can grasp and understand,” he said. “The intel has been there for a long time that this is going to happen. But we sat there and just waited, and waited until eventually it happened. That’s hard, especially as you see the lives lost here in the past few hours today.”

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