Veterans Affairs Secretary addresses Afghanistan fallout at AMVETS convention

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough discussed the impact of the Taliban takover of Afghnistan on veterans during the opening ceremony of AMVETS national convention. Photo credit File photo

While Vice President Kamala Harris stayed silent on the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, in his keynote address Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough did not during the opening ceremony of the American Veterans (AMVETS) National Convention on Wednesday.

In a video, Harris noted the Biden administration’s record on veterans issues.

“Our administration is firmly committed to honoring your service and sacrifice,” the Vice President said.

Harris touted the American Rescue Plan that is providing assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic and said suicide among veterans is both a national tragedy and national responsibility.

McDonough opened his keynote speech by addressing the current situation in Afghanistan.

“I know what’s happened in Afghanistan this past week has been painful for many of you,” he said. “It’s been painful for me.”

Thousands of AMVETS members from across the country are gathering for the convention in Greensboro, N.C., which runs through Aug. 21.

McDonough explained that as someone who did not serve in the armed forces “there is no way I can come close to understanding how you feel now. No one can unless they were there.”

He urged veterans, family members or caregivers are feeling depressed, angry or heartbroken about what they are seeing in Afghanistan to call the VA's Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255; to text 838255; or to access mental health services online.

The convention is the organization’s first in-person national meeting since February of 2020. COVID-19 vaccines are available at the event.

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