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Former Marine Sergeant Who Served In Afghanistan Shares Concerns For Fellow Veterans As Chaos Unfolds

Afghanistan Airport
Hundreds of people gather outside the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. The Taliban declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government Tuesday, seeking to convince a wary population that they have changed a day after deadly chaos gripped the main airport as desperate crowds tried to flee the country. (AP Photo)

Scenes of chaos at Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday as crowds of people rushed the runway, attempting to flee the country. Over the weekend, headline after headline broadcast the latest gains by Taliban fighters as Afghan cities toppled in the final days of the U.S. withdrawal.

Afghanistan war veterans are watching the devastating events unfold, recalling their service, their friends lost in combat and worrying for the safety of the Afghan people. Ashleigh Byrnes served in Afghanistan as a combat correspondent.

"There are Afghan people that I talked to, that I interacted with, I don't have any way of knowing what's happened to them," Byrnes says. "They've left an impression on me, and I have no way of knowing whether they're dead or alive, whether they are stuck in Afghanistan, or got out. I guess really all I can do at this point is, is pray that that something terrible and tragic hasn't befallen them."

Byrnes is the deputy national communications director for Disabled American Veterans or DAV. As she hears from veterans coping with the latest headlines she's particularly concerned about their mental health.

"There's got to be a lot of people out there that are struggling, and I want to make sure that we're able to connect them with the resources that they need, especially coming off of this this year of isolation."

If are a veteran in crisis or concerned about one you can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255. Also check out the VA Mental Health Services Guide, it will help you sign up and access mental health services.

Joining Cincinnati Edition to discuss the withdrawal from Afghanistan is Disabled American Veterans Deputy National Communications Director Ashleigh Byrnes who served in Afghanistan as Marine Sergeant.

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