‘What Was It For?': Veteran Reflects on Service in Afghanistan, Withdrawal of Troops

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America's longest war is over, but some veterans who served in Afghanistan have mixed emotions about the end of the 20-year war that left more than 2,000 Americans dead and many more injured.

"I'll never be that same person I was before I set foot in Afghanistan," U.S. Air Force veteran Jen Burch told News4.

Burch served six and a half years in the Air Force, seven months deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan.

She said she and her fellow service members went above and beyond to fulfill their mission, which makes watching the recent tragic events unfold that much harder.

"Seeing everything unravel with getting the Americans and our Afghan allies and seeing the images coming out of there, it's just heart wrenching. It's, you know, a 17-year-old kid held onto a plane to get out of there because the alternative was worse than dying. That's how bad it is over there and that's how scared these people are," Burch said.

She's particularly worried for the children she met there a decade ago, and what their future holds now.

"Holding these little kids' hands and telling them they're going to be OK and they're
the next generation and … their future is going to be different than their parents because they're not going to have to worry about Al Qaida and the Taliban. And now I'm wondering where those kids are today. And did I personally give them false hope?" she said.

Burch was deployed as a civil engineer, but volunteered as a medic at the hospital.

She says after so much loss, having the Taliban back in power will make the 20th anniversary of 9/11 that much harder.

"All of our work, the blood, sweat, tears, the lives, sacrifice. You know, it's like, what was it for? But it's also remembering, like, we did what we were told to do," Burch said.

Burch said she wishes the withdrawal had been done more gradually.

She's hoping the Americans and allies who are still trying to get out of Afghanistan will be able to do so safely.

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