The Human Side Of The Afghanistan Pullout, From Someone Who Experienced It

By guest author Christine Collier

 

I’m usually very good with words, but the past few days have left me pretty speechless, which is why I haven’t specifically commented on what is happening in Afghanistan. I’m going to try to put some words together, so we’ll see how it goes…

 

Throughout my 17-and-a-half-year career, 18 of those months were spent in Afghanistan over the course of two deployments. I spent six months there in 2007 and a year there from 2013-2014. During those times, I was able to visit the people of Afghanistan – to include girls’ schools, rural villages, and hospitals. I had interpreters to assist me when I went “outside the wire,” and I greatly valued their assistance. I was able to experience the country the culture, and the people.

 

I made friends in Afghanistan. I had a jeweler, a carpet guy, friends who worked with us on a daily basis. People with families and lives and hopes and dreams. I met the women who were serving in the Afghan military. I heard about their hopes for the future and a stable life. They told me about their willingness to sacrifice for the country they loved, knowing how dangerous it was for them to even be serving.

 

When I see the images come across the screen from Afghanistan, I don’t just see a country falling apart. I see little girls who will no longer be able to continue their education. I see women whose lives are about to be destroyed. I see American allies who are in imminent danger. I see my friends who are terrified and aren’t sure that they will even make it to tomorrow.

 

I see humans that are so scared for themselves that they are willing to jump on the outside of a moving plane. And I’m heartbroken. Like deep in my soul horrified and sad. I wish things had gone differently. I wish these people were safe and protected. And I hate feeling helpless for them as I watch from half a world away. I don’t know what to do.

 

But at least there is one thing I do know… And that’s that I don’t regret the time I spent in Afghanistan. Knowing what I know now, I’m not upset that I went. I’m not regretful of the time I spent there. It wasn’t time lost, but experience gained. 

No, I wouldn’t wish that I never traveled there, but there is something I would change. I would spend just a little more time with the people there. I would hug more of those little girls, and for longer. I would tell those Afghan women to stay strong and that their sacrifices mattered. And I would thank those allies more often, for the missions would have failed without them.

 

I still have some embers of hope that we will be able to save more people. But I don’t know about that either. So, all I can do is share my stories and let the people of America know what was left behind.”

 

By guest author Christine Collier

 

Christine Collier enlisted in the Air Force after graduating college, and became an Air Force Officer where she worked in Public Affairs. Christine was frequently embedded with combat patrols, visiting the towns and villages around not just Bagram Air Base, but often in forward areas as well. 

 

Photo courtesy of Pavel Dobrovsky at Flickr.

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