US veterans protest Afghan war
As the US entered the tenth year of what is already its longest war, veterans and activists took to the streets to protest the redeployment of injured troops and the ongoing occupation of Afghanistan.
To date, 1,215 US soldiers, as well as an estimated 14,000 to 34,000 Afghan civilians, have died. On the anniversary of the war, veterans and Afghans in Washington asked whether all of the fighting has been worth it.
22-year-old Afghan veteran Brock McIntosh joined the Washington, DC march from Illinois.
“I was one of the more optimistic soldiers, who I got on the ground in Afghanistan and I wanted to participate in this liberation of Afghans and defending the country from terrorists and all that nonsense,” said McIntosh. “The on the ground experience completely contradicted all of the preconceived notions that I had when I entered the country, and what tends to happen with a lot of soldiers is—not with all soldiers, but certainly with me is, you reach a point where it’s no longer about defense, or liberation or the constitution or anything about that, it’s about getting home alive to be able to marry your fiancé, or hold your baby that was born while you were away, or take your daughter fishing for the first time. Or to be in an environment where it’s not normal to become numb and indifferent to the sound mortars and rockets crashing around your tents.”
Veterans also shared stories of recovery and healing, from traumatic brain injuries sustained in combat as well as sexual abuse suffered at the hands of their fellow soldiers.
“I’m a survivor of military sexual trauma, and having to do back-to-back deployments never really gave me a way to recover,” said Joyce Wagner, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq. “And I had another incident at the end of my deployment in which I was sexually assaulted, and I never really reported it because I didn’t think that anything would happen, based on my first incident.”
Activists called for an end to both wars and the occupation of Afghanistan, as well as support and understanding for their wounded comrades.