CINCINNATI — The recent unrest in Afghanistan is reopening painful wounds for some veterans in the Tri-State.
Images of families trying to flee Taliban control is a reminder of the time retired Air Force Maj. Rusty Mardis spent in Kabul, he told WCPO Monday.
“Everybody who served and spent time there still has friends there,” he said. “My heart just pours for the Afghan people because they, for the most part, really wanted to see a change.”
Mardis lives in Greater Cincinnati now, and he is the coordinator at Northern Kentucky University's Veterans Resource Station. One of his last missions was preparing leaders in Kabul for life without U.S. troops.
“It's very disappointing and upsetting, because you give your blood, sweat and tears for the mission,” said Mardis.
Keith Maupin in Batavia reflected back on what he gave for the mission nearly 20 years ago: his son, Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin. He has dedicated his time now to providing care packages to military overseas through Yellow Ribbon Support Center.
“He saw the towers fall, and the Army gave him the best deal for college, and that's the way he wanted,” said Maupin. “When we took him to the airport and dropped him off, I knew that boy wasn’t coming home.”
Retired Marine Sgt. David McGee is helping veterans through art therapy in Greater Cincinnati. He was serving in the U.S. Marine Corps as a combat engineer, working enemy intelligence and reconnaissance missions when he was wounded.
“So many people’s sacrifice was for nothing,” he said. ”I literally get sick to my stomach when I hear and watch the stuff.”
“We trained, we gave them weapons, you name it," he said. "We spent billions and billions of dollars, and what are we showing for it? So, it’s just very disheartening."
He says his friends there are calling for help.
“I actually had a good friend of mine while I was stationed there, he was Afghan National Police, and he worked inside our office, has a young boy and wife that are trying to get out now,” said Mardis.
He said they urge veterans, families and friends to check on soldiers they know as the violence unfolds.
“It’s just being there for them, listening to them and knowing and experiencing it with them,” said Mardis.
If you need to connect to veterans who can help process the latest information, you can call 1-800-273-8255.