KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The legacy of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, has grown increasingly complicated following a 20-year war in Afghanistan. That’s taking its toll on service members.
The memory of the war and its withdrawal can be a painful source of conflict for veterans. The attacks were an incentive for many to join the military, but studies show PTSD is worse in veterans now than it’s ever been.
Patrick Montgomery joined the military in 2010, but in 2001, he was a sixth grader in the Northland. The attacks were one of the reasons he decided to join the military.
“It's pretty terrible. Bringing your sister's husband back to her in a casket is not a lot of fun,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery said he doesn’t have regrets but also said he did struggle when acclimating to civilian life.
“I definitely went down a pretty dark path there after [my brother-in-law] got killed. I lost three more buddies from our battalion within that year afterwards, and made some bad choices while I was in that led towards rock bottom,” Montgomery said. “Sometimes that's exactly what you need to get the right perspective on your own life.”
Montgomery’s struggles are the same many veterans face. Many service members find it difficult to adjust after leaving the military. Especially since the impact 9/11 had on veterans is undeniable.
In a study done by the Brown University Costs of War Project, researchers estimated that post-9/11 veteran suicide rates are more than four times higher than all American fatalities in the post-9/11 wars.
The rate of suicides among veterans is also high in Kansas and Missouri compared to the national suicide rate.
And now, with the war in Afghanistan coming to a close, that could serve as a trigger point for veterans.
In the second episode of KSHB 41 News’ five part podcast mini-series about the 20th anniversary of 9/11, digital producers Casey Murray and Katharine Finnerty will explore how service people in Kansas City were impacted by the attacks, and how they are impacted now as the U.S. ends its longest war.
EPISODE 1: Remembering 9/11 on its 20th anniversary
EPISODE 3: The impact of 9/11 on the Islamic community, educators
EPISODE 4: What 9/11 changed and how Kansas City remembers
EPISODE 5: Reporting on traumatic events like 9/11