U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, arrives at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan on August 17, 2021. | Photo via U.S. Navy Capt. William Urban.

The Veterans Assistance Commission in Lake County is urging the community to reach out and check on veterans they know following the events in Afghanistan.

Andrew Tangen, Superintendent of the Veterans Assistance Commission of Lake County (VACLC), said “there are a lot of emotions flying around” following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after the Taliban took over.

Tangen, who is an Afghanistan veteran himself, said he encourages residents to check on veterans they know and talk to them.

“Not just posting on social media, go actually talk to them and check in on them to make sure they’re okay,” Tangen said.

The VACLC said that veterans might be questioning the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. “They may feel more moral distress about experiences they had during their service.”

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The VACLC is a county-funded agency that helps approximately 35,000 veterans and their families that in Lake County. The VACLC provides support, financial assistance and free legal services to veterans and their families.

“I know a lot of us are not okay. People are hurting in a big way. Even if they [veterans] say they’re okay, they should still try and contact somebody,” Tangen told Lake and McHenry County Scanner.

He said that he encourages veterans to come into the VACLC and have a cup of coffee and talk with them. “I know for a fact, tons of veterans in Lake County and neighboring counties that don’t have support.”

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, more than 2,400 members of the military have died in Afghanistan since 2001 and more than 20,000 members have been wounded in action.

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Veterans who are having thoughts of suicide are encouraged to call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and then press 1. Emergency mental health care is available 24/7 at local VA medical centers, the VACLC said.

Those interested in discussing how they feel with other veterans can call 877-927-8387 to be connected with community-based veteran counseling centers.