Local veteran shares thoughts, encouragement as U.S. troops leave Afghanistan

Retired Brigadier General Richard F. Keene

NORTH SMITHFIELD – As the United States military pulls out of a conflict that has lasted nearly two decades, local veterans reacted to the news this week, sharing words of comfort and encouragement for those who served in the 20 year war.

North Smithfield resident Richard Keene, a retired Brigadier General who most recently served as the assistant to the vice commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, shared a letter authored by retired LTC Scott Mann, addressed to members of the U.S. Special Forces.

“Although it’s addressed to the SF community, the message and letter apply to all veterans as well as family and friends of veterans,” Keene said.

Mann’s letter marks an appeal to advocacy groups to help those working to get Afghans out of the country.

“As we move through the chaos of the collapse of the Afghan government and the ongoing humanitarian crisis that is befalling the Afghan people, US Army Special Forces veterans who worked in Afghanistan and built deep relationships with their Afghan special operations forces partners as well as interpreters and indigenous families are jumping into the fray forming private public partnerships in chat rooms and in the theater of war to fill gaps that the US Government currently is not filling,” Mann wrote. “In other words, Green Berets are doing what Green Berets do, working by, with, and through indigenous people to free the oppressed.”

“It is imperative that these Green Berets who are working virtual chat rooms and going into the arena to help extract Afghans get support from Special Forces advocacy groups,” said Mann.

Mann also pointed to the need to check in with veterans and their loved ones – particularly Gold Star families who lost someone in the conflict.

“They are hurting badly right now,” the retired lieutenant commander wrote. “I know for a fact that they are struggling with what’s happening. Particularly as they see the USG taking very little action, and they are wondering if their Green Beret loved ones died in vain.”

Keene noted that Mann’s non-profit, The Heroes Journey, is accepting donations on behalf of Afghan resettlement efforts.

“We can all do something to help those who are hurting,” Keene said. “You can also reach out to a veteran to ask how they’re doing. Talk heals.”

Keene also shared a message from Daniel Greer, president of Marlow White Uniforms, a company that produces clothing for military and first responders.

“In the past few days, we have all watched in dismay as Afghanistan fell back under the control of the Taliban. As we speak, many Americans, Afghani friends of America, and others are in harm’s way. We join you in deep concern and prayers for their safety,” Greer wrote.

“News stories abound about how ‘evil triumphed’ at the termination of the protracted war in Afghanistan. They tell us we are in a worse place than we were before the war. Common misunderstanding declares that the operation failed to establish a free society in Afghanistan,” Greer said. “Some have questioned if the costly investment of American lives was worth it. I disagree with these assessments.”

“For the past 20 years of my life, my family has enjoyed a free, safe, and in many respects, idyllic life here in America. Your sacrifice gave my family 20 years of normal life with relatively few fears,” Greer added. “We worried about you, but we didn’t have to worry about ourselves.”

The words came prior to tragic news on Thursday, Aug. 26 that 12 American service members had been killed and 15 wounded in dual bombings in Kabul.

Greer’s full letter can be found on the company’s Facebook page here.

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