Watching the unfolding tragedy in Afghanistan is a spiritually painful experience for some of the 800,000 veterans and service members who served there during the course of America's nearly 20-year conflict.
Many vets have reached out to old teammates to see how they are handling the bad news, and the Veteran Crisis Line has seen an 11% uptick in calls since August 15, Sen. Jerry Moran says in a letter written to Veteran's Affairs.
The public letter seeks clarification on how Veterans Affairs intends to aid those who are struggling as the United States completes its military pullout of Afghanistan, which is officially scheduled to be finished by the end of August.
The questions the Sentator seeks answers to from VA include:
1. Since the decision was made to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2021, how has VA coordinated with the Departments of Defense and State, the White House, and with any other agencies on potential impacts to VA and the benefits and services it provides? Please provide a general timeline of this coordination and the potential impacts that were identified.
2. Did the administration consult with VA on the impact to veterans prior to finalizing any withdrawal plans?
3. What forecasts did VA make on the impact the withdrawal would have on demand for VA mental health services? What steps has VA taken to prepare for the forecasted impacts?
4. What steps has VA taken to prepare for the increased call volume to the VCL, and what is the expected timeline for VA’s response to this increased demand?
5. What specific messages have been tailored for VCL respondents, and how is the VCL working to properly handle this particular crisis that is negatively impacting many veterans?
6. What efforts has VA made to reach out to veteran serving and other community organizations to bolster their work in assisting veterans through this crisis?
"The VA has an important role to play in how our country ends this war and deals with its aftermath. I will work to make certain we do all we can to see that this war is ended responsibly and its aftermath is dealt with compassionately," Sen. Moran said in a press statement.
When Connecting Vets asked a group of veterans to comment on the Taliban retaking control of Afghanistan, all were upset about it although reasons varied from the inevitable decline in human rights to the leaving interpreters behind to questions about what their military service meant if this is the end result.
Behind the scenes, many veterans are not waiting for their government to take action but are actively hatching plans to evacuate friendly Afghans to the United States.
If you’re a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one, there are caring, qualified VA responders standing by to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.
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