Ten Years of Afghanistan – The True Cost


10 years ago, on October 7, the war in Afghanistan began. After the 9/11 adrenaline had subsided, the lives of those of us in the military community didn’t completely settle down. We went about our days in as close to “normal” as we could; but the thought in the back of our minds continued to wear at us. Was our soldier going to war?

In my case, with both my son and husband in the National Guard, I worried that both would leave at the same time. After the swiftness of the Desert Storm Campaign, we thought it would be over soon.  As the Taliban fled, leaving Kandahar and Kabul, we thought this would be over quickly.

The war in Afghanistan became the “forgotten war” in the period after the invasion of Iraq and the ongoing grind when Iraq did not end as had been planned with “flowers beneath the tanks.” The Fallujah and Sadr City battles continued to make a quick exit impossible and there was need for more and more and more troops to Iraq with extended deployments. Those posted to Afghanistan began to wonder if they had truly been forgotten. One acquaintance said to me that, while in the airport, he was asked if he was heading to Iraq. He said no, he was going back to Afghanistan. The person then said, well, at least you’ll be safe.

Now that our troops have been drawn down in Iraq, and there is the perception that it is all over, (which is not true) attention is being refocused on Afghanistan. I have a special interest since my husband is currently in that area. After Osama bin Laden was finally dealt with, I actually had people ask me if my husband was still going.   That type of simplistic thinking makes us all wonder at our fellow citizens and their perception of why we actually went to war.

This has been 10 years of war for my family and my community. We sometimes hear “we’re tired of hearing about you and about these wars” from civilians. Believe me, no one is more tired of it than we are.

The notoriously short attention span of the American public has meant that many of us in the military community wonder if anyone remembers that we’re still at war. In these days of budget talks, and budget cuts, the cost of this war seem to be only seen as dollar signs.

The true costs are etched in the faces of the widows; in the tears of the children crying for a lost parent; and the shattered faces of the parents at the graveside of their soldier or Marine. The true cost is in the stones at Section 60 of Arlington Cemetery, and gravesites in the little cemeteries, in the small towns in Minnesota and Oklahoma, in the cities of Texas and Tennessee; and on the wards of Walter Reed/Bethesda and the Center for the Intrepid in Houston.

The true cost of 10 years of war? We will be paying this cost for decades to come and the families of the wounded and the fallen will always know the true cost. The question is, will the rest of the country?


Related Stories:

War and Sacrifice — Post 9/11

Military Members Not Able to Vote in Colorado?

Guide to the Latest on Pakistan’s Terror Ties


Photo: S. Francis by permission


Howard C.
.7 years ago

It is not only the US that has deployed troops to this region, the UK, among others, has troops there as well. I am proud of our young people who willing go to do the bidding of our Governments but for the life of me I fail to see why we are there at all. Having said that whilst war, in all its' forms, costs the taxpayes a great deal of money those who own the arms companies make a fortune from it, surely the answer doesn't lie here???

Christina B.
Christina B7 years ago

I keep reading phrases like "the troops fighting in Afganistan and Iraq are keeping the US free and safe" and I just don't get it. Free and safe from WHOM, exactly??? It's not as if the US has been invaded and the army is trying to defend the borders, is it?

It has never been an issue of national security or freedom, people. How can you NOT see that?

Ann G.
Ann G7 years ago

We truly do try to feel for you. My uncle died in Vietnam, so I consider myself a civilian who has some small idea of what you go through daily. Thank you.

Klaus P.
Klaus Peters7 years ago

Afghanistan is a war that should never have happened, it was a result of the 9/11 hate, revenge campain.The gulf wars were a failure. The US dragged their remaining allies into these wars, several have left the conflict. Obama has not learned a thing from both Bush administrations. More allies will peel off. The US are obcessed to fight the middle east mainly because of OIL, not 9/11. It is about control long gone. And now the US (their money monsters) are trying to screw the world by manipulating the market to fill their pockets.Thank you DAVID Gruenspan you and your mates are the Achilles heel of the US, do not forget the 1930ties and the result. Money or wealth cannot be taken to heaven nor HELL. In the end we are all equal in the eyes of GOD and face judgement, believers of ANY religion will face the same question: have you obeyed by the commandments of God?

Tracie A.
Tracie A7 years ago

As far as I understand people in congress with their money and "influence" are doing nothing but bickering back and forth and wasting a whole lot of money doing it, and still nothing has happened, i mean not really. So what in the heck do you expect "the American public" to do about it?! Please do not get me wrong I for one never forget about the sacrifice the Army, Marines, ect. are giving so that my family can live free and sleep safe. And my heart go's out to you for any rudeness you have suffered, but that is no reason to lump all us "civilians" together and say we all just do not care. I hear people in your situation complaining and saying why dosent someone DO something!? What about you? Why don't you do something? What do you want us to do? Any ideas, anyone. For the love of god tell me what to do to bring back our loved ones, and end the enormous dept this "forgotten war" is costing us and I will do it! My main point is.... not every "civillian" has forgotten.

Parvez Zuberi
Parvez Zuberi7 years ago

The main culprit of the war in Afghanistan is George Bush the war criminal who is enjoying in stead of being tried for the crime Its time that American people should wake up and stop this war mad war which has ruined the economy and increased the suffering of the poor people the Afghan people has nothing to loose they live in mountains and have been fighting for decades with Russians and now with Americans they have no concept of economy they have no infrastructure they grow opium and sell heroin that is their trade which has increased many fold after the occupation by American forces So it is high time you people wake up and force your GOVT to call all the forces back home and stop the war and look after the welfare of its people

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons7 years ago

Why are all these people blindly supporting a war president?

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons7 years ago

Where is Obama on the war issue? Just another war president.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons7 years ago

The true cost of the war in Afghanistan is that our country is morally bankrupt and economically bankrupt. Killing civilians with drone strikes and torturing people into confessing that they are terrorist is just as bad as a witch hunt.

Penny M.
Penny Moonstone7 years ago

"Only the dead have seen the end of war". - Plato