Veterans who served in Afghanistan express frustration, anger following withdrawal

‘Another 9/11 attack hasn’t happened. We have a lot to be proud of,’ San Antonio veteran says

SAN ANTONIO – Some local veterans who served in Afghanistan are expressing frustration at what they are seeing take place after the Taliban began overtaking the country. Some are still finding solace in the war that kept another attack like 9/11 from taking place on U.S. soil for 20 years.

Ryan Wempe, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer, was disheartened, watching the situation unfold in Afghanistan. He spent two years in Afghanistan between 2009-2010 and 2013-2014.

“It was a wild deployment, and we suffered a lot of injuries. We lost essentially 10 soldiers during that deployment. And, yeah, many, many, many Purple Heart recipients as a result of that,” he said.

Biden defends decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan

Wempe says he’s disheartened and frustrated watching the situation in Afghanistan as so much was lost over the fold to the Taliban. He says former soldiers he’s been talking to, and even those in uniform who are not at liberty to speak up, are demanding answers from the administration, who they think tried to use the 20-year mark as a political move.

“As someone who served during the surge, both surges, watching what those troops dealt with during those times, I don’t feel like this was warranted to pull out, certainly, in the manner we did. It just feels like there’s ineptitude leading this,” he said.

The military brat pointed to other bases around the world where the U.S. still has a foothold.

Wempe also thinks all veterans who served in the 20-year war need to be proud of what they did, which was keep the enemy at bay, following 9/11.

“I think veterans need to hold their head high about their service in Afghanistan. It was not all for nothing. People’s memories are short, and another 9/11 attack hasn’t happened. We have a lot to be proud of,” Wempe said.

Wempe says his focus Monday was checking in with his veteran buddies to make sure they are OK. He runs a veterans apparel website, where he also uses his contacts to tell the stories of soldiers.

He says he’s also been trying to focus on helping former Afghanistan contacts that need to get family out of the country through his connections.

VA Mental Health officials reported last week an uptick in veterans seeking help. If you know a veteran who needs support, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1).

Call the South Texas Veterans Health Care System scheduling center at 210-949-9702. Those enrolled with the VA may reach their health care team through Myhealthevet.

WATCH: San Antonio man reflects on Taliban’s takeover after son killed in Afghanistan last year

Javier Gutierrez, whose son was killed last year in Afghanistan, says his son's death was not in vain despite the country's takeover by the Taliban.

About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.