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NEWS | Aug. 25, 2021

59th MDW commander shares thoughts on Afghanistan

By Brig. Gen. Jeannine Ryder 59th Medical Wing

In a Commander's Message on Aug. 16, 2021, Brig. Gen. Jeannine Ryder shared the following...

I believe many have mixed feelings watching the events of the last few days with the Afghanistan crisis and the collapse of their government.  I am sad, disappointed and frustrated. 

Almost 20 years of time, resources and effort were spent to find the terrorists who attacked our nation on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as their safe havens and degrade the terrorist threat.  Additionally, these 20 years encompassed building relationships and friendships with Afghans, supporting and funding their training and ability to enhance their own security. 

Many of you, your friends, and loved ones served and sacrificed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom taking care of our warriors.  You saw the best and worst of humanity, gained lifetime experiences and friends and a different perspective on life. I was deployed there in 2008 as part of the training mission to build the Afghan Air Corps. 

After yesterday, some friends and family members asked me if it was worth that time away from my family and home. I still say yes, however, it is with a heavy heart today. 

I know this upheaval may cause many of you an array of strong emotions. We heard your confusion and anger, questioning why we sacrificed so much for decades only to see the collapse days after standing down. We heard and witnessed your grief for the bloodshed and lives we lost ... a spouse, friend or comrade.

The first person I thought of yesterday was "Gonzo", how does his family, friends and his Protective Security Detail (PSD) brothers and sisters feel?  Gonzo was killed on Aug. 3, 2008. from an IED ... I will never forget the call to the officer -- One soldier killed and an Airmen seriously injured. 

It was one of those days you know where you were and what you were doing when you got the call.  The sadness and anger are unimaginable to how someone can be taken away in the blink of an eye. It made me cherish the friends I made in a very challenging environment so much more. 

We want to thank each and every one of you for your continued support and defense of this great nation even through challenging times. Your sacrifices have not gone unnoticed. Your commitment is unmatched, and we could not complete our mission without you.

Your emotions, regardless of what they may be, are valid and each of us will process them in our own ways. These events also come very close to the 20th Anniversary of 9-11 which brings a host of memories and feelings. 

We ask that you check in on your friends, family, wingmen, and battle buddies who may be struggling with the same thoughts and emotions we are. There are resources standing by to help such as Military One Source, Mental Health, and the chaplains. Please reach out, do not suffer in silence. There is someone ready to provide a listening ear or a helping hand.

All I can say, you are not alone.