BUFFALO (WIVB) – The events unfolding in Afghanistan are hitting home for veterans here in Western New York.
“We spent a ton of money. Our job when we were there was to train the Afghan national police and the Afghan army to defend their country to protect its citizens,” said state senator Rob Ortt, who served in Afghanistan in 2008.
Now that the Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan, he’s hoping all those efforts weren’t for nothing.
“As someone who left friends there who didn’t come home. It’s very hard to watch 20 years of treasure and blood just collapse in a week,” Ortt said.
SGM Jason Jaskula served in Irag. He’s also calling the takeover disappointing.
“It’s very hard to swallow the fact that you know we made a lot of progress, even the children and women of Afghanistan and liberating them,” he said. “Now, education and all these things that were put forth with the military and the aide and everything that we as a country tried to help them with is now all for not.”
Vietnam and highly decorated combat veteran Steve Banko says he’s not surprised this happened.
“I think it was just a matter of time,” he said.
Banko Compared the events in Kabul to the fall of Siagon.
He says the U.S. needs to now help people get to safety.
“We need to get our people out of harms way,” Banko said. “We need to get the people who’ve helped us out of harms way, because they will be subjected to some horrific torture in the event that they’re left behind.”
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer also feels that way.
“Job number one is to get all Americans out safely,” Schumer said. “Secondarily that those brave Afghans who served as translators and helpers for our soldiers and for those who worked in the non-government organizations helping the U.S. effort get out, because if they stay there their lives are at risk.”
Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.