ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Some Rockford veterans are grappling with the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban after securing the country for the past 20 years.
“When you first deploy, there’s all kind of ramped up motivation and there’s missions here and missions there, and you have purpose. As these wars drag on, you’re wondering why they’re dragging on,” said Marine veteran, Ryan Curry.
Curry served in the Marines for more than a decade before suffering an injury in Iraq fifteen years ago. Now, he helps fellow veterans who may be struggling with their mental health through his organization, Beneath the Beard.
“We have a lot of veterans who served over there who are very hurt, and I can understand why,” he said.
Curry says seeing the Taliban regain control of the country has some of his fellow vets questioning their service.
“It’s an emotional thing for me as well, seeing what a lot of people feel is time wasted,” he said.
One strategy he’s adopted to help him cope with those feelings is thinking about the differences he was able to make for the people there.
“We helped families every day that were suffering and struggling, and that were over tyrannical rule, and we gave them every opportunity to rise up and fight against those people,” he said.
Curry says veterans feeling the way he does should talk to friends or loved ones about any difficulties they may be having.
Robert Ryder, with the Veterans Assistance Commission of Boone County, says no one should be ashamed to admit if their mental health is suffering.
“The important thing to realize is, that they’re not alone,” Ryder said. “These feelings are not isolated to any one person, that a lot of people are going through this. And, it’s a real sign of strength and healthiness to reach out and say, ‘I’d really like to talk to somebody.'”