Local veterans react to U.S. exit from Afghanistan



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PEORIA (WEEK) — A local Army veteran is responding to the ongoing situation in Afghanistan. The Peoria Notre Dame grad spent nine months in-country.

“They pretty much expected the U.S. military to handle everything,” said Army veteran, Ben Menke.

Menke said when was deployed in Afghanistan three years ago, his unit was there to support the Afghan Government.

He said the American exit was a longtime coming. He felt the people had been too dependent on the U.S.

“They were scared of the Taliban. No one wanted to keep what’s theirs, fight for what’s theirs,” said Menke.

Menke was overseas for 9 months in 2018. Most of his time was spent stationed in Kandahar, looking over the Southern Province.

“It had its moments that were bad, but I wouldn’t say it was horrible,” said Menke.

Although, Menke was told it was more dangerous for people serving like him, a decade earlier.

“Those were the worst times probably to be in Afghanistan, mine, not so much,” said Menke.

Another Army vet in the area 25 News spoke with off camera said his time in Afghanistan was brutal. And said to see the U.S. pull out the way they did, was a slap in the face.

Menke was more diplomatic, but did wish the U.S. left with a better plan.

“Kind of rushed, felt really, really rushed,” Menke continued, “That’s how I feel, I think the war was for no reason.”

Both men said they were still living with the affects from their time in Afghanistan, including post traumatic stress disorder.

Menke now lives in Colorado, working as an apprentice in sheet metal and HVAC assembly. The other vet works with a park district in Central Illinois.

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