Scranton family and veteran react to the effects of the Afghanistan withdrawal


SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Eyewitness News reached out to a local family and Veteran whose lives were directly affected by the war on terror to find out what they thought about Monday’s dramatic events.

10 years after her son came home from Afghanistan, Melanie Dougher of Scranton watched president Biden’s press conference on Monday, the day after the Taliban took control.

“Long enough now, long enough and many kids died over there…and it’s enough now,” stated Dougher.

Melanie Dougher says her son William insisted on joining the army after 9/11. The West Scranton alum served in Iraq where he was seriously hurt falling into a well. After recovering in the U.S. He was in Afghanistan for 16 months. When he came home, he suddenly died of complications from the injuries he sustained overseas.

“I would never want another mother to go through something like that…even when they come home, none of the kids are the same when they come home. They’re not,” said Dougher. “The president is right, they had a chance, we cleaned it up, we showed them what to do and it’s up to them to do it. No more of our guys.”

Still, as the Taliban takes over she says her heart breaks for the Afghan people left behind who her son fought to protect.

That’s on Andy Chomko’s mind as well as he watched it unfold from his home in Scranton. The army veteran was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in the years following 9/11.

“I worked with interpreters, I worked with their special forces…And it saddens me that right now, they’re probably fighting or hiding at this point,” explained Chomko’s

He says the withdraw of U.S. forces from Afghanistan was a matter of time. But the chaotic way in which America’s 20-year war is coming to an end doesn’t sit right with him.

“As of a month ago, our elected officials were saying this could never happen..well, today it happened,” said Chomko.

On Monday, Biden acknowledged the Taliban took control “more quickly than we anticipated.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released a statement saying:

Veterans from all eras are reacting to the events in Afghanistan, such as the U.S withdrawal and the takeover by the Taliban. You are not alone. Veterans may question the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. They may feel more moral distress about experiences they had during their service. It’s normal to feel this way. Talk with your friends and families, reach out to battle buddies, connect with a peer-to-peer network, or sign up for mental health services. 

U.S Department of Veterans Affairs

If you or some you know is in need of help please contact the Veterans Crisis Line by calling 1-800-273-8255, then PRESS 1 or visit their website.

Local Veterans can also discuss how they feel with other Veterans in the community by calling 1-877-927-8387 or you can find a location near you.

For more information and tips on coping with the distress about the turmoil in Afghanistan head to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs website.

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