CLEAR LAKE, Texas – Shocking and devastating are just two of the words used by a combat veteran to describe the scenes coming out of Afghanistan.
Bryan Escobedo is a former marine who earned a Purple Heart after two combat deployments to Iraq. He didn’t serve in Afghanistan but has been involved with the thousands of Afghanistan vets across the Houston area through a nonprofit veteran transition center he serves as the systems director and national expansion director.
“When you remember something you tried to suppress it’s going to come up and bite you if you didn’t deal with it,” Escobedo said.
Escobedo said in the numerous conversations he has had with those fellow combat veterans many are being traumatized at seeing 20 years of American sacrifice essentially evaporate in 10 days. As a trained peer counselor the former marine has been helping those veterans focus on their service.
“Don’t let what happened take away what you earned, take away your sacrifice, what you did, the people that we lost. That’s separate,” advises Escobedo. “Us fighting and being a good fighting force is separate from the foreign policy decisions of our government.”
Psychologists are reporting an increase in veteran depression rates and calls to suicide hotlines in recent days. Jill Wanner, a clinical psychologist at DeBakey VA Medical Center, says the happenings in Afghanistan could intensify some of the veterans’ PTSD symptoms.
These reactions may include really intense anger, and confusion, and sadness, said Wanner. “They may question why they were there in the first place.”
On Tuesday Escobedo’s nonprofit is going to host a virtual townhall for veterans who served in Afghanistan to discuss what’s taken place in the past few days. Wednesday they will hold another town hall for the more than 7000 Afghan and Iraqi interpreters who served the U.S. in their home countries and now call. For more information or to take part in the town hall look for details at combinedarms.us
Several other groups are also stepping up to help veterans through the Afghanistan withdrawal. Groups like The National Alliance on Mental Illness and Blue Star Families are offering services for impacted veterans. The Wounded Warrior Project is also making calls to veterans.
For more information or if you know any veteran suffering from PTSD, please call the Veterans Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website.