SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio veterans reflect and discuss the lasting impacts of the Afghanistan war as today marks the one-year anniversary since the war ended.
For Adam Bylincki, this was like any other day spent prepping and cleaning his food truck. However, he was well aware of what happened one year ago, when America’s longest war finally came to an end in Afghanistan.
“It was time to go,” said Bylincki, an Army paratrooper who served in Special Forces. “You have to realize that you’re not getting where you want to go and go somewhere else.”
Senior Vice Commander of VFW Post 76, Mike Toreno, said on this anniversary he thinks about why U.S. troops were there, “to help liberate, free a nation of the different ideologies that they had.”
Originally from New York, Toreno said he had family and friends at Ground Zero on 9/11 who survived.
On the first year milestone of the withdrawal, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement, the al-Quaida terrorists were able to plan the attacks on 9/11 “because their Taliban hosts had given them safe haven in Afghanistan.”
Toreno spent eight months with the combat stress unit at Baghran Air Base, a level one trauma center. Toreno said he often went to the front lines to help tend the emotional wounds of war.
Toreno, now a social worker, said many Afghanistan war veterans still struggle with those wounds, unable to talk about their experiences.
But with the camaraderie and a shared sense of purpose and service at VFW Post 76, Toreno said, “When we’re here, it’s a safe environment.”