'War veterans are not okay': Wisconsin Afghan veterans in anguish over Taliban takeover

NOW: ’War veterans are not okay’: Wisconsin Afghan veterans in anguish over Taliban takeover

Fort McCoy, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin veterans who worked and served in Afghanistan are experiencing a whirlwind of emotions as they watch the Taliban seize power in a region they are all too familiar with.

Former Army Interrogator and Intelligence Officer Sam Rogers said for the last two days, his phone has not stopped ringing.

"War veterans are not okay right now," said Rogers, who did three tours in Afghanistan.

After his return, Rogers began working as the coalitions director for Wisconsin branch Concerned Veterans for America. His job was largely focused on convincing leaders to end the war in Afghanistan. Now, two decades later, he said it's been difficult to process how it's unfolding.

"It's been extremely emotionally challenging. I go through the cycles of grief, anger and frustration," Rogers said.

In the 20 years that the U.S. military was in Afghanistan, more than 755,000 American troops deployed there -- thousands of people Rogers said he's concerned about, as some are now questioning if their time there was worth it.

"Our men and women in uniform continue to do everything that is asked of them at great personal risk and great personal sacrifice," Rogers said. "Our leaders owe it to our veterans right now to own up to the fact that they failed the servicemen and women, they are not the ones to be blamed."

It's a feeling that former Army National Guard member, Tonnetta Carter, is struggling with as she watches the swift and chaotic collapse of the Afghan government.

"It's heartbreaking because I thought we had made a lot of progress and to see how swiftly things went back to the way it was, it's like, were we even there 20 years ago? What happened?" said Carter, who during her tour, worked to send equipment from U.S. bases in Afghanistan back to the states.

Kimberley Motley, a human rights lawyer who also worked in Afghanistan for 13 years, said she continues to have feelings of guilt for not being able to help Afghans who reached out to her in terror over the Taliban reclaiming the country.

"People are telling me stories about how there's Taliban going house-to-house looking for them," said Motley. "I've had people basically saying they know they are going to die."

Motley, who's also made history as the first practitioner of law in Afghanistan, said the last few days overall have been disappointing and heartbreaking.

"We promoted this idea of democracy and rule of law and look what's happening, our country has literally ripped that all away."

In a statement, Governor Tony Evers says Wisconsin is prepared to help, saying "Many Afghan people now fleeing their homes have bravely contributed to work in Afghanistan. Just as they protected us in serving our country, we owe it to them to protect and keep them safe."

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