Peace isn’t something that just happens, it needs to be built. It’s kind of like how a home is built, it takes a plan, a lot of resources, and time. In the past three decades, America has been attempted to be the architect in Afghanistan’s skyscraper of peace. Whilst attempted to construct this metaphorical skyscraper, many of the workers have passed away, developed hindrances, or watched as their architect poured time and money toward a lost cause.
These workers, of course, being soldiers in this conflict. One of the many arguments as to why the US should pull out of Afghanistan once and for all is the losses of life families across the country have had to deal with. According to icasualties.org, a website that collects data of casualties in conflicts across the world, the US has lost over two thousand soldiers since 2001. Now across a period of fifteen years, that doesn’t seem like a lot, but you have to think of the families back home who are affected by this. How many children watched a parent get on a plane alive only to be returned in a casket? How many wives and husbands lay in their beds alone at night, staring at the space their significant other used to lay in? Regarding those who do come home, it isn’t uncommon for these veterans to experience a pain of their own, whether it be phantom or physical.
Brown University has been tracking America’s involvement in the conflict since it began, and while doing so have noticed that veterans who have returned from Middle Eastern conflict have “an unusually high percentage of dying of drug/alcohol overdoses, suicide, or vehicle crashes.” Whereas this could be linked to issues prior to deployment, the denial of a connection between substance abuse/depression and war is ignorant. These issues are one of the many reasons that we provide services here in the US that are aimed to help veterans cope and succeed with post-war life. These services might not be the best, but that’s due to a lack of funding. Perhaps these services could be funded more if we weren’t spending so much money on our affairs in the Middle East.
The number, found again by Brown University, is astronomical. Not one million dollars, not one billion dollars, not even one trillion dollars. The number is approximately FOUR TRILLION dollars. That’s about a quarter of the US national debt. If we stay in Afghanistan for another three years, this will rise by about four hundred billion dollars. With this money we could make some actual headway in improving some systems here in the US. Imagine what the veterans program(s) could do with a handful of this sum. Proper treatment for depression, PTSD, dementia, and other mental illnesses and physical issues caused by involvement in conflict is a necessity for veterans who want to have a quality post-war life, and with proper funding, they can.
These soldiers risk and give their lives so that us citizens supporting them back home can live with the freedoms we have. After thirty years of conflict, two-thousand plus deaths, and countless cases of post-war illness, I believe it’s time we let these warriors rest. Economically speaking it’s the right choice, but more importantly, it’s morally the right choice.