‘What was all of this for?’ Colorado veterans struggle with questions after Afghanistan falls to Taliban forces

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 10:48 PM MDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2021 at 5:02 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - The first thing veteran Ryan Hemhauser told 11 News reporter Spencer Wilson when they met Monday afternoon was how angry he had been all day.

“You just missed it, we were yelling at the TV!” Hemhauser joked.

Hemhauser served with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan as an engineer. He is on his way out of the service, but has taken it upon himself to support his brothers and sisters in arms even after he’s gone. He’s created an online community called “Disgruntled Vets,” which has more than 600,000 followers, a space for veterans to share their experiences or simply vent to people who understand what they’re going though.

Today, he had a lot to vent about.

“It’s mixed emotions between anger, betrayal, and ‘Thank God we don’t have to put any more young men or women into those situations,’” Hemhauser said, trying to express his frustration. “I was personally friends with a lot of Afghans and it’s scary, I don’t ... I just don’t know if they’re alive.”

William Becker was also having a confusing day Monday. He served in Qatar with the Air Force.

“We didn’t actually make any difference,” Becker lamented. “We killed the people we wanted to kill, and then we hung around and tried to make this country more like ours, which I would say is a good step for for multiple peoples’ freedoms but ... in the end, it was to no avail.”

He says he is now wrestling with bigger questions, like the purpose of his time and the U.S. military’s time overseas.

“I mean, do we cut our losses? What about all those people that helped us?” Becker mused. “I mean, what are we doing for them? Trying to get them visas, but in the meantime ... they’re just screwed or what?”

Hemhauser says he’s now focused on making sure that his friends get the help they need, because his fight -- and their fight -- has not stopped.

“I’ve lost more friends to suicide because of this war than I have people in combat. So it’s more than that 3,000 that we lost over there ...You’re talking about 22 a day for 20 years [lost to suicide.]” Hemhauser explained. “Right now, I’m afraid that as a veteran community, that number is going to skyrocket because we feel like what we did over there was for nothing.”

If you or someone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Hotline. There is someone waiting to talk to you right now, do not hesitate to call this number: 800-273-8255

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