'It's been a very hard couple of weeks': Discussion brings Vietnam veterans to support Afghanistan veterans

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- As the United States continues to remove forces from Afghanistan, those who fought there are dealing with a lot of emotions. The local veteran community is stepping up to help. 

A discussion called The Afghanistan Conversation was held at the War Memorial Center on Monday, Aug. 23. Veterans from different generations came together to support Afghanistan veterans. 

Mike Orban, a Vietnam veteran who lives in West Bend, organized the discussion after hearing about a lot of Afghanistan veterans struggling. 

"When we came home we isolated, went our own ways and forgot about it, buried it," said Orban. "We want to make sure that doesn't happen." 

It's been decades, but as a Vietnam veteran, Orban knows the emotions that the men and women who fought in Afghanistan are now feeling. 

"Just the withdrawal on such a short notice, leaving allies behind, leaving people who are friendly with us," said Orban of the similarities between the US leaving Vietnam and Afghanistan.

The discussion encouraged vets who are struggling to seek support and talk about their emotions.

"It's been a very hard couple of weeks. Seeing the images we're seeing on television does a lot to veterans," said Afghanistan veteran Jason Church.

Church said the current events have brought up a lot of emotions he left behind nine years ago when he left Afghanistan. 

"Nine years ago today, to the day, that I lost my legs in Afghanistan," said Church. "I remember the moment it happened but I forgot for so long how it felt."

Sam Rogers was another Afghanistan veteran at Monday's discussion. Rogers was deployed to Afghanistan several times over the last 10 years. He's spent the last week doing what he can to help refugees.  

"Personally my life was saved by a translator my first deployment, and this is something the veteran community cares deeply about," said Rogers. "I spent most of my nights the last five days on the phone and on the computer trying to help folks get to safety."

Many of the veterans have found joining organizations created by other veterans has helped them. They encourage others to join their community because they say it's a family of people who understand. 

Another discussion is being held at the War Memorial Center on Monday, Aug 30. All veterans are invited to join.

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