SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A retired lieutenant colonel wants fellow veterans to know their time and sacrifice while serving in Afghanistan was not in vain.
On Thursday, Chris Baird spoke on his perspective and thoughts regarding the situation unfolding in that country.
He said he believes mistakes have been made (and are currently being made) concerning the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
However, he says our time in the country was a success story our nation should be proud of.
“I see everything now that is just spiraling out of control, and they have completely lost all the advantages that we gained for so many years, ” Baird stated. “So, it is heartbreaking. I have a lot of mixed emotions.”
Baird explained he was with the first group deployed to Afghanistan following September 11, 2001.
“And so, some of our initial targets were terrorist camps that were strung through Afghanistan. He added,” So, what I see happening now is all those terrorist training camps being rebuilt. Certainly, they are not going to have good intentions.”
Images of the crisis in Afghanistan are enough to stir old memories while at the same time creating new concerns.
“It kind of caught me off guard because there are missions that we did there that you kind of compartmentalize, and you just kind of file it away. You don’t think you are going to think about those things again. When all of this unraveled there were emotions that really overtook me, and I had a lot of anger. I had a lot of sadness, bitterness, and confusion. It took some time to unwind and analyze all of that.
“I think every American right now should be outraged, and just things have been allowed to happen the way they have. our national security is at stake because of this current generation and future generations to come because of bad decisions.”
Chris’ wife Rachel explained how the situation impacted their family.
“My initial thought was we gave up 14 years of our life, and in two weeks one really bad decision has undone it all. How do you deal with that? She added, “How do you look at your children who didn’t have their dad around? My oldest daughter was 6 years old before her dad was ever around for a birthday.”
A lot of veterans are struggling with the same heartbreak and are wrestling with the same hard questions. The Baird’s say their faith is helping them during this time in particular.
“For us, we have to be able to know that God put us where we were at that moment in our lives to accomplish the things that we needed to in that moment in time.” Chris explained, “My message to veterans is we succeeded there, we succeeded in protecting our homeland, and we did our job. There was never a 9-11 [type of] strike from the time we went over there until now. So, it was a success story. Although I cannot speak to what is going to happen from this point forward, our mission was successful.”
In all that’s taking place, Chris says one major concern he has is for the mental health of fellow veterans and active-duty service members.
He worries about how seeing these events could cause a lot more stress for those already struggling with depression and PTSD.
He urges those wrestling with those issues to seek help now.
Resources available for those needing help include the Veterans Crisis Line at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ and National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.