As a Christian organization that supports our military, The Warrior’s Journey has received a flood of queries from patriots—many of them veterans—who are angry, perplexed, and disillusioned by current events in Afghanistan. We’re not alone in receiving greatly increased calls for help. The VA says the Veterans Crisis Hotline took 8,569 calls from Aug. 13 to 16.
The United States’ handling of the military withdrawal has left us baffled as to how the leadership of our great nation could carry out the operation so badly. Adding insult to injury, top leaders continue with responses that seem to make no sense. The thought of leaving behind to fend for themselves not only Americans but so many others who faithfully served this country is unconscionable. Please pray with us that God will intervene, and our leaders will move forward in this crisis and do the right things.
Many of you who have served in Afghanistan or in other places defending America’s freedom are asking a hard question: Were my service and sacrifice all for nothing? According to the Department of Defense, over 800,000 American service members have served in Afghanistan since 2001. That includes 2,352 American service members who died in Afghanistan and more than 20,000 who were wounded. Did these combined sacrifices accomplish anything meaningful?
I did not serve in Afghanistan, but I identify with how you may be feeling. I served a year as an infantry platoon leader in Vietnam. I flew back to Travis AFB, California, in late June 1972. There was no victory parade or any kind of warm reception when our plane landed. As a matter of fact, several well-wishers had advised me that I change out of my uniform into civilian clothes before leaving Travis. They warned that wearing my uniform in public places could make me a target for ridicule—or worse.
My response? Having spent months in the field chasing Viet Cong, I was in no mood to tuck my tail. I wore my uniform into San Francisco proudly and waited at the bus station for my connection to see my grandmother who lived in Capitola. Had some anti-war protestor decided to start trouble, I was more than willing to oblige. Fortunately, no one tested me.
Less than three years later, Saigon was overrun. The entire country of South Vietnam came under communist control. Thousands of Vietnam veterans and family members asked the same kinds of questions that many of you are asking now—“Was my sacrifice worth it? Did 58,000 military heroes give their lives for nothing? What about the thousands who left Vietnam wounded physically, mentally, emotionally…?”
I’ve had almost 50 years to reflect on my experiences in Vietnam. I pray that my fellow comrades in arms, family members, and other great Americans who have played a part in defending our nation’s freedom will never forget these truths.
You have served the United States of America with honor. When duty called, you obeyed that call. Many of you volunteered. You knew the risks, but you went anyway. Our nation asked you to do hard things, even to the point of death. You knew that freedom isn’t free—and you were willing to make whatever sacrifice was necessary. Hold your head high. Walk proudly. This nation thanks you for your service and sacrifice.
Your efforts in Afghanistan have not been in vain. Since 9/11, your collective sacrifices have kept Americans safe. Our nation has not experienced a serious attack by foreign terrorists. That is no accident. God has used you to help bring about the peace we’ve enjoyed. Your bravery has also allowed the people of Afghanistan to benefit in so many ways over the last 20 years. Thousands, including many young women, have received an education they would never have had otherwise. Afghans have tasted dignity and freedom. Many have experienced a better life and have hope for the future.
The American people are proud of your efforts and accomplishments. Unlike the Vietnam era, millions of Americans consider you heroes. Don’t let the failings of leadership regarding U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan tarnish your dignity and self-respect. You have proven time and again that you are men and women of character and integrity. Keep moving forward doing the next right thing. Now more than ever, America needs people like you if we are to get back on the right path.
If you need help, there are many who care and will respond with assistance. Don’t keep your pain bottled up. Thousands of military service members are receiving support in dealing with Post Traumatic Stress, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, physical wounds, or other issues relating to mental or emotional distress. Whatever you may be experiencing, you are not alone. Please reach out for help. Don’t hesitate to contact us at The Warrior’s Journey. We have partnered with approximately 50 organizations. If we can’t help you directly, we’ll do our best to steer you to someone who can.
Remember to pray. God answers the prayers of individuals and of nations who reach out to Him. He states in 2 Chronicles 7:14:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
We have a heavenly Commander-in-Chief who knows you and everything about your situation. He loves you and is committed to helping you if you will let Him. Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:7,8 are true:
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
America is going through dark times, but at The Warrior’s Journey we are praying and believing that our nation will get back on the right path. By God’s grace—along with your prayers and your commitment to do the right thing—America will move into the future with strength and character as the leader of the free world.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
About the Author:
Scott McChrystal Chaplain (COL), US Army (Ret.)
Scott entered active duty in 1970 as a 2Lt in the infantry. He served 31 years on active duty, 10 as an infantry officer and the remainder as an Army chaplain. His line officer experience included a tour in Viet Nam as an Infantry Platoon Leader and 3 assignments with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, As an Army chaplain, he had multiple tours at home and abroad. His final assignment was serving as the Senior Chaplain at the United States Military Academy at West point, NY. He retired from active duty in 2005. Scott joined The Warrior’s Journey staff full time in June of 2019. He currently serves as The Warrior’s Journey Military Liaison.