BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Taliban have seized power in Afghanistan, storming across the country and capturing all major cities in a matter of days. Veterans who served in Afghanistan said it has been gut-wrenching and heartbreaking to watch this unfold.
“What happened in this last week has just been shattering,” said Adrian Bonenberger, a veteran and writer from Branford.
Bonenberger was an army infantry officer and deployed twice to Afghanistan. He and his fellow veterans have leaned heavily on one another for support.
“A lot of my friends and comrades, soldiers, sergeants, officers have been reaching out to each other and talking and commiserating and sharing our horror of the collapse of 20 years.”
As many continue to process what’s happening, Bonenberger shared this message.
“We did all the work we could,” said Bonenberger. “Every American soldier and Afghan soldier who fought for that future should hold their heads high. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Other veterans News 8 spoke with said the focus should now be on helping those in Afghanistan, as many are fearing for their lives.
“We have a really sacred obligation at this point to rescue and get to safety as many vulnerable Afghans as we possibly can,” said State Rep. Matt Blumenthal, a Democrat representing Stamford and Darien.
State Rep. Blumenthal was an infantry platoon commander. He’s hoping the necessary work can be done to keep people safe.
“We need to stand up for our friends and allies,” said State Rep. Blumenthal.
There has been an influx of Afghans, who’ve worked with the U.S. government, coming to Connecticut. In the last five years, Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS) has welcomed more than 500 Special Immigrant Visa Holders and refugees to the state. Most recently, IRIS welcomed four families who were part of the evacuations taking place. They are ready to welcome more as needed.
To find out more about the organization and how you can contribute to its mission, visit IRIS’s website.