An Open Letter to Those Who Served in Afghanistan, From Those Who Served in Iraq

An open letter to war veterans

An Open Letter to Those Who Served in Afghanistan, From Those Who Served in Iraq

Dearest Women & Men Who Served in Afghanistan,

My heart bends, twists, and breaks for you.

It bends for those who left marriages and relationships in the pastel poppy fields of Helmand.

It twists for those who made personal puddles in mud in Korengal.

And breaks for those who knew in their core that their sacrifices in Afghanistan would be worthy.

We joined the military during a war for many different reasons. Not all those reasons make sense to us now. But, what we all found for a short time, was what everyone seeks – purpose and meaning.

Now, that purpose and meaning feels as though it is being revoked, and we are left holding the bill:

Our knees, our hearing, our back, our sleep, our days, our nights, our families, our power, our drive, our future, our sickness, our health, and our hearts.

But take heart my friends, let the glue to mend your broken heart not be made of what people see now, but from what people felt because you were there. You narrowed your eyes and beat your chest at the violence and horrors of the world.

You met the enemies of human rights, love, and liberty with a beating heart that beat back. You were the wild and powerful heart of the free world in Afghanistan that absorbed the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

That heart beat so loudly and with such ferocity that for 20 years the people of Afghanistan and the rest world felt a bit safer. So safe, that during that time, they started families, created art, forged relationships, wrote books, built bridges, made discoveries, recorded music, and cured diseases – all of which will stand the test of time.

The golden scales tip in your favor and your deeds are truly worthy of praise. They will not tarnish or rust.

Now go, let a braver, younger, and bolder generation take their turn fighting for human rights, love, and liberty.

It’s time for you to build something and breath deep in your triumphs,

R.S. Collins, Licensed Clinical Social Worker & United States Army Infantry Veteran


If you need someone to talk to, please reach out to any of the resources below:

Department of Veteran Affairs

  • Veterans Crisis line: 800.273.8255 – Select 1
  • Text Line: Send Text to 838255
  • War Vet Call Center: 1.877.927.8387
  • Women Veterans Call Center: 1.855.829.6636
  • Real Warriors: 1.866.966.1020
  • Caregiver Support: 1.855.260.3274

Military OneSource

  • CONUS: 800.342.9647
  • OCONUS: 800.342.9647 OR 703.253.7599

Call Each Other. Be Honest. Be Open. Stay Alive.

Robert Collins, LCSW, LSSGB
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