WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The collapse of Afghanistan’s government and the resurgence of the Taliban is difficult for all Americans to watch, but it’s much more personal for those who’ve served overseas.
Rhode Island native Craig Mullaney served as a U.S. Army captain in Afghanistan in 2003, and ultimately went on to become a senior policy advisor for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Mullaney described the fall of Kabul as “emotionally overwhelming.”
“It’s really disappointing to watch as a veteran and a former policy maker,” he said. “I’m angry, sad, confused and discombobulated. I found myself just sort of weeping in the middle of my work day.”
Mullaney isn’t the only veteran who’s struggling to come to terms with what’s happening overseas.
Attleboro resident and U.S. Army Captain A.J. Ferraro was deployed to Kabul back in January and was among the soldiers who returned to the United States in June.
“What we are seeing now is absolutely tragic,” Ferraro said. “We spent two decades trying to give this country a chance at freedom, for them to step up and claim it for themselves with us as the enablers to do that, and through a variety of factors that didn’t happen.”
Now veterans like Ferraro and Mullaney are trying to come to grips with images of Taliban flags flying over outposts that were once United States military bases.
The Rhode Island Office of Veterans Services announced Tuesday it is providing resources to those who’ve served and may be dealing with renewed emotional trauma.
“If you’re in distress, reach out,” Mullaney said. “Pick up the phone. You’re not alone.”
Q&A with Rhode Island Office of Veterans Services Director Kasim Yarn
Gov. Dan McKee also reiterated during his weekly media briefing that help is available for any veteran or service member who’s struggling.
“To our brave members of the military, past and present, thank you for putting your lives on the line,” McKee said. “I want you to know that your service and your family member’s service was not in vain, You answered the call, kept us safe, and protected our freedoms.”
Below is a list of resources available for veterans, active-duty service members and their families:
- RIServes is a confidential network that provides peer-to-peer case management and can be reached by calling (401) 921-2119.
- The Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7 and connects service members and veterans with responders through a confidential, toll-free hotline that can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255.
- The Vet Center in Warwick provides a broad range of counseling, outreach programs and referral services to combat veterans and their families and can be reached by calling (401) 739-0167.
- BH Link is a one-stop, statewide, 24/7 call-in center that connects people with appropriate care and resources when they, or someone they care about, is experiencing a behavioral health crisis and can be reached by calling (401) 414-LINK (5465).