To America’s Veterans, their families, survivors, and caregivers: I know it is painful to see the images from Kabul and elsewhere in Afghanistan, especially for the hundreds of thousands of Veterans who have served there since that fateful day in September 2001.

When our country was attacked, you and your loved ones made the heroic choice to run towards the fight. That courageous sacrifice matters and has made us safer, no matter what happens today or any other day.

It’s entirely natural to feel a range of emotions about the latest developments in Afghanistan—and if you are feeling depressed, angry, heartbroken, or anything else, we at VA are here for you. Whether you want to speak to another Veteran, talk to a therapist, call our crisis line at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1) or text 838255, visit one of our Vet centers, or access any of VA’s mental health services online at www.MentalHealth.va.gov, we are standing by and ready to help.

Thank you for stepping up to serve in the time when our country needed it most. We are all forever in your debt.

Dr. Richard Stone bids farewellDr. Richard A. Stone: Farewell, with my deepest gratitude
Don't ask, Don't tell repeal at 10Tenth anniversary of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

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18 Comments

  1. Gregory R Gutierrez August 19, 2021 at 9:18 am

    I cant believe that the Secretary of the Veterans Affairs could only write a few lines to Veterans. Thanks for showing how you really feel about us.

  2. Tim August 18, 2021 at 10:30 am

    Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan… we’ve lost our way on war fighting. Too much politics, not enough committment. We need to just stay home and wait for the inevitable… being surrounded by the evil in this world. Please don’t send our young men/women into these situations anymore until we figure out how to be 100% committed to victory!! We should have locked down and swept these coutries of the weaponry. No media, no travel in/out, and then gave them back their country and told them o.k…. sink or swim. We are done here, good luck. That being said… the current mess isnt even about the war. We knew we were backing on out many months ago. This is about no plan at the finish line. Joe Biden had one job to do… plan an exit strategy. Thats it! A simple heavily fortified perimeter around that airport so that you can get people and equipment out without conflict. His speech was classic re-direct. It’s not about the war Mr. Biden. You had 6 months to plan this exit… you had no plan.

  3. J.S. Parry August 18, 2021 at 3:35 am

    For the first time in American history, since the commissioning of our regular Army and Navy, we have no Commander In Chief. He has vacated his office, abandoned his post, repudiated responsibility and is derelict in his duties. POTUS in name only Joseph Biden must step down or be removed. We cannot expect our Airmen, Marines, Sailors and Soldiers to follow a man who refuses to comport himself as a leader; to uphold our Constitution, provide for the security of our countrymen and allies and preserve freedom, liberty and the rights of our people; those significant things we raised our right hands for.

  4. Bill Berry August 18, 2021 at 2:26 am

    Sad your letter is one of “hey thanks for stepping in, but we decided not to save the patient”. Goodbye It is amazing how leadership (ha) does not learn from history and just repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

  5. John Motley August 17, 2021 at 10:21 pm

    After spending 13 months in Afghanistan between 2011 and 2014, I consider this situation a National embarrassment! These cave dwelling knuckleheads have successfully pushed the Soviets and the USA out of Afghanistan and are laughing all the way to the bank! Billions in American taxpayer provided equipment and training down the drain! Our Nation is less safe today than at anytime in the last 20 years because now we don’t know who the Taliban will provide safe haven to!

  6. Kevin Smith August 17, 2021 at 9:55 pm

    Mr. Secretary, you have a problem with the Caregiver program, and it needs your attention.

  7. B.J. Fleischer August 17, 2021 at 8:55 pm

    The VA is too freken busy patting themselves on the back telling themselves and anyone that will listen what a great job they are doing? Ha nothing could be further from the truth! When a VA surgeon tells the VA you need to be sent to a certain surgeon and have surgery ASAP! What does the VA do denied my surgery for the fifth time! I had to pay for my surgery out of my own pocket or I would be dead already! Thanks, VA and thanks congressman, and thanks to our two great senators of TX all of whom did actually not a God Dam thing! What do they need to do to start hiring Disabled Veterans to make these decisions, I bet things would change in the VA immediately! Put disabled veterans in charge of veterans health care then let’s see what happens. Cause we would not stand for this current crap going on! No more inflated numbers about what a great job they are doing! Let us do the hiring and firing and a lot of these crap people putting tons of crap in the way of veterans getting the care they deserve!!! When they agree to do that I’ll go to work every day in pain and a smile on my face just to get rid of the crap people we have been putting up with for years! Cause I’ll tell you Marines are more then a bit fed up with all the crap going on. In just 12 months I could trim the fat and hire more then enough people to care for our veterans properly!!!

  8. Mel Johnson August 17, 2021 at 4:47 pm

    Remember that Vietnam was different! The U.S. Fighting Forces decimated the NVA after TET…NVA exposed themselves in ways never before and they lost huge numbers of troops. The North Vietnam Leaders wanted to execute the NVA Army General who planned and executed TET.
    Read the North Vietnam Post War reports. TET’s huge Failure changed the Strategy…to the USA “Streets” and “Media”. Lastly, on Vietnam, the Three principals signed a Peace Treaty to end the War…later signed ratified by @ 30+ other Nations. Two years, later, the North invaded the South and Congress tied President Ford’s hands–No Funds…and as noted, the corrupt South Vietnamese Government imploded.

    Our US Forces in Afghanistan fought an incredible War…tougher than Vietnam (IMHO), but the stupid Nation building strategy was a failure from the start…and once again…We lost precious lives and crippled many powerful Men and Women Fighters…and devasted their Families with these losses and “crosses”…and everyone responsible for the U.S. Political & Strategic failures…are not held accountable in any way whatsoever. Nation building is a disaster…it’s not a Military Mission & propping up and fighting for & dying for corrupt regimes is a non starter. “Period”!

  9. Delbert Mitchell August 17, 2021 at 4:03 pm

    I am a Vietnam veteran who served in the Navy, and made three combat tours there. I left the active Navy in 1967, but served in the naval reserve, rising to the rank of CPO. During my 26 year career in the naval reserve, I also pursued a career with the Army as a federal civil servant working in the ammunition inspection world. My career in ammunition took me to many places, including Afghanistan at Camp Salerno on the Afghan/Pakistan border in Khost Province. I enjoyed my six month tour there, and I visited many FOB’s to inspect their ammunition, but, I always felt we (the U.S.) were spinning our wheels to democracize a nation that didn’t want to be a part of the 21st century. The Islamic religion has a strangle hold on Afghanistan, as it does in the Middle East, and so long as radical Islam controls the minds and hearts of the Middle East, countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and all the other Stan’s, they will never see the light of day. I ended my tour in Afghanistan convinced this day would come when we would suffer the humiliation of a venture that was doomed from the start, and with the inept, incompetent leadership in the White House by a president who not only can’t find the restroom, he can’t even remember why he’s looking for it anyway. Disgusting example of leadership.

  10. R. B, Kessinger August 17, 2021 at 2:38 pm

    I love this country but we have to have leaders that are willing to think long and hard before sending our brothers, sisters, and children in harms way. We have had three “conflict” since the WWII. Korea was a draw. Viet Nam was lost in the streets here in the states. and Afghanistan was unwinnable. We are good at getting into these conflicts but just can’t find a way to get out peacefully. I thought we had a chance in Viet Nam when I was there. but there was too many corrupt politicians in the South Viet Nam government who lined their pockets and were never had the backing of the majority of the country. The veterans and all those associate. wives. children. fathers. mothers. brothers. sisters. and other family members. must take pride in the fact that they all did their duty.

    • Jana LOUISE Albany August 17, 2021 at 3:14 pm

      Very true.

  11. Brad August 17, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    Feeling mixed emotions and trying to fight off triggers. Sad!

  12. Salvatore lasalvia August 17, 2021 at 1:03 pm

    This is bringing up memories of Vietnam. We pulled out and left a void. This was a slap in face of all those who fought, were wounded, injured and those that paid the ultimate price.
    We retreated and abandoned those left behind

    • Lesia August 17, 2021 at 7:02 pm

      I respect Vietnam veterans who did what the government called them to do and were chastised by a lot of the very citizens they did it for.

  13. Bruce G Hill August 17, 2021 at 12:56 pm

    Why wasn’t this type of message from a I would like to say commander in chief but I cannot honestly call him my Commandewr-In-Chief, a former SSG E6 eith 8 yrs service and a tour in Vietnam

  14. Richard Irish August 17, 2021 at 11:29 am

    it hurts when a message from the Secretary of VA is also addressed to the Caregivers of seriously disabled veterans. Those Caregivers have been so disgustingly and shabbily treated by the VA Caregivers Program.. thousands have been wrongfully rejected for the program

  15. Joshua Adkins August 17, 2021 at 11:01 am

    Well we are forever in debt since we volunteered for a war that was a lost cause from the start. After service we have to deal with chore and hassle of trying to get benefits we earned, because of the trauma’s we suffered. Having to constantly beg and say please to people to get a chance at a conversation for benefits is insulting at best. Why are veteran’s being paid on average 10% less then we were 10 years ago?
    We can’t get any benefits from any program that isn’t the VA even throughout this pandemic that has trapped us, we can’t get actual healthcare because the VA curtails our treatment to throwing specific prescription drugs.
    I have been asking for help for 6 years, the VA took my home while I was active duty and made a profit off of it. I deployed on a sprained ankle as medic to help save lives, I am attempting to value my life.
    The VA won’t help with child custody, I literally had my son taken away from my care because I deployed.
    My fiance and caregiver has had to quit two jobs and is the only reason I am alive yet we can’t get her as my caregiver. According to the VA she doesn’t know my treatment plan yet the only “treatment” we are given is pills, which she organizes and reminds me to take. It is terrible to beg for help and be relentlessly ignored. My service haunts me and isn’t something I can feel proud of when the only organization that is supposed to help us doesn’t believe our cries for help.

    • Joe Washburn August 17, 2021 at 5:05 pm

      What have YOU done about the YEARS long wait at your claims/appeals dept?
      .
      It is a disgrace.
      .
      Ignoring it is a disgrace.
      .
      Delay Deny until they DIE is the tag your claims/appeals earn over and over dead vet by dead vet.

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