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'Angry that this is happening': The Battle Within helps Afghanistan War vets process Kabul bombings

Therapist discusses responses to Taliban's actions
adam magers the battle within.png
Posted at 9:16 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 23:53:36-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The images coming out of Afghanistan from suicide bombings and the Taliban overtaking Kabul can be triggering for many veterans who served over the past 20 years.

"They’re angry that this is happening," said Adam Magers, clinical manger for The Battle Within’s Frontline Therapy Network. "It’s upsetting. A lot of them are feeling a lot of grief, and they’re feeling a lot of sadness, frustration. Some of them are feeling a lot of anxiety. Feeling really confused on how we got here."

Magers said he is hearing a range of emotions from veterans, as several Marines and dozens of Afghan citizens were killed Thursday in a suicide bombings.

"Some veterans are having flashbacks, especially with the news today in Kabul," Magers said. "For anybody who has experienced an IED blast or a suicide bomber or a v-bed, which is a vehicle-born IED, that this news is taking them back without a doubt."

Even for Magers, an Iraq War veteran, watching what's happening in Afghanistan impacts him as well.

"When it happened, I felt angry and I felt heartbroken," he said. "I know what’s it’s like to be on the ground and to have a bomb go off, I’ve had that happen, I’ve experienced it first hand, I’ve seen it."

The mental toll this places on veterans can be overwhelming, Magers said, with every veteran responding differently. Some even want to gear up again and head back out, he said.

"I was actually just doing a session with a veteran, combat veteran, an hour ago and he was saying it makes me want to put my stuff on and go over there," Magers said, "like he wants revenge right now. He’s not ready to mourn. So this is taking people for a journey. It’s going to be a process."

And that process that can take months, if not years, to overcome.

"We’re going to need a lot of support from the community to make sure that we are there for veterans in this time that this is really critical that we don’t let these folks down at a time like this," Magers said.

After two decades of fighting America's longest war in history, Magers said he knew a withdraw had to happen, but not this way.

"This is not just a failure of the current administration but of past administrations," he said.

Magers told KSHB 41 News that for about 50% of people who need therapy, it takes six months to have meaningful improvement.

The Battle Within has helped more than 700 people and supports more frontline medical workers, who are dealing with hardships related to COVID-19, in addition to veterans.

More information about The Battle Within, can be found on the organization's website.