U.S. soldiers are expected to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, ending America’s involvement there since 2001. Military families are looking forward to the return of the troops because their time away is difficult for families to handle.
American soldiers have been in Afghanistan for over eleven years. U.S. troops were sent to Afghanistan in early October of 2001 in response to the 9/11 attacks on America. The purpose of Operation Enduring Freedom, the mission of going to Afghanistan, was to stop Al-Qaeda forces and stop terrorism there. They also wanted to remove the Taliban regime from power there because they protected Osama bin Laden and refused to arrest him after the 9/11 attacks. In May of 2011, America accomplished one of their major goals by killing Osama bin Laden. Since 2011, American troops have gradually been leaving Afghanistan. Currently, America has over 74,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. President Obama and NATO now have plans to withdraw all American soldiers from Afghanistan in 2014.
“After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home,” President Obama said in his State of the Union Address.
Military families have many thoughts on the subject of American troops leaving Afghanistan. Hannah Delmonte, a Woodgrove freshman, has a father who has been in the military for 24 years and has been deployed four times, three of which were to Afghanistan.
“I feel that it is necessary to show that there is no point in this war. Soldiers should be taken out of Afghanistan because of the budget cuts. By them being there we are in the exact same place we started and we are wasting military funding money that the United States has a limited supply of,” Delmonte said.
Julie Brownell, a Texas resident, has a husband who is going on his fourth deployment midsummer, second of which to Afghanistan.
“It’s a good thing that they’re leaving as long as everything they wanted to accomplish is done and not just because they picked a date and they want to stick to it. Otherwise, all the men and women who got killed there was in vain,” Brownell said.
Loudoun Valley High School freshman Paige Holdeman’s father has been in the military for 27 years. Her father has been deployed four times, all to Iraq, and solely switched military units to avoid going to Afghanistan.
Holdeman said she would, “feel relieved that our troops are coming back home safely.”
Soldiers being in Afghanistan affect everyone, including their families. Being a lone parent when one’s spouse is deployed is no easy task. Brownell is a mother of three, aged two, four, and nine.
“I have to be both parents to my kids when he’s gone because it’s just me, and I have to do every single thing. Even when you’re sick, you have to get up because no one else is there to pick up the slack. You have to count on yourself. You can’t just let yourself fall apart. Life just doesn’t stop when they’re gone,” Brownell said.
Deployment is just as hard for the kids of military soldiers as it is for the soldiers themselves.
“This deployment will be hardest on my youngest kids, aged two and four, because they’re old enough to know that their dad is gone, but too young to understand why. Older kids like my eldest daughter, age nine, understand why their dad is gone but are subconsciously mad because their dad misses important events,” Brownell said.
Delmonte knows how the absence of a father during his deployment can take its toll.
“The first two tours were hard but by the third and fourth, my mom, brother, and I knew how to handle things without him being there,” Delmonte said.
Holdeman suffers from anxiety since her father’s deployment, “and becomes anxious during any separation from my parents.”
The children of military families face many hardships but there are other positives that make the hardships worth suffering for.
“The kids are proud of their dad because he’s protecting our country because he actually cares about it. There’s a sense of pride that doesn’t come with other parents jobs,” Brownell said.
American soldiers leaving Afghanistan is important to many people. Most people are singing the same tune.
Brownell said, “I think it’s a good thing because it’s a dangerous place.”
Delmonte echoes her by saying, “It’s great because I know he’s not going to miss anymore birthdays or holidays with his family and of course, he’ll be safe.”
Many people are looking forward to the soldiers coming home because according to Vice President Joe Biden, “We are leaving Afghanistan in 2014, period. There are no ifs, ands, or buts.”