Moral obligation and our Afghan allies: A military mom’s perspective
In August of 2021 I watched in sadness as the evacuation of Kabul began. I had more than a passing interest. From 2008 to 2011 my husband worked in Afghanistan at Safi Airways, a civilian airline with many International Security Assistance Force contracts. I joined him in 2010, teaching science at the International School of Kabul. We built many wonderful relationships there with students and employees.
As the evacuation continued, we received many panicked messages and worked feverishly to help our former friends and colleagues evacuate, unfortunately with very little success.
As heartbreaking as that was, my connection to Afghanistan is even more personal. I’m a military mom of four service members, two of whom are Afghan veterans. The months they spent there are seared forever into my heart, an experience true for every military loved one. Having someone you love in harm’s way is indescribable. Fortunately for me, my kids came home alive, something for which I am forever grateful.
But I know that a big reason that my kids, and the kids of so many other mothers like me, came home is because of the many Afghans who supported our troops over two decades. This is a sentiment shared by so many of my fellow military family members, and countless veterans of the Afghan war.
It is why I have been advocating for the Afghan Adjustment Act (AAA). Simply put, the act will provide a roadmap to permanent status for Afghans we brought here during the evacuation last year. It will also provide a strategy to continue relocation and resettlement of those Afghans we left behind and add an additional layer of security vetting to address any public safety concerns.
I am in the unique situation of being in touch with many military mothers. In 2015, I wrote a book, “Be Safe, Love Mom,” which has been described as a service manual for military mothers, and I have created an extensive community of military parents. We know the stories of survival our sons and daughters have shared. We also know that many of them feel that we failed Afghanistan — and more personally those Afghans who risked their lives to protect our loved ones.
While we cannot undo what has been done, we have a moral obligation to follow through on our promises and provide pathways to permanent residence for those we brought here, and to help those who are left behind. Beyond this very personal concern, this is also a matter of national security. How can any other nation trust us if we need help like this again? Who in the future will be willing to trust our promises and risk their lives to support our sons and daughters?
I have another concern as a military mom, and it is the hidden fear that all military moms harbor. We send our children to war praying they come back whole, but we fear that their bodies, minds and hearts can be damaged. Moral injury is real and documented. I fear we will lose a generation of leaders as they leave military service and try to cope with the broken promises to our Afghan brothers and sisters.
You don’t have to look far to see so many service members, Afghan veterans and veterans’ groups working hard to support the AAA. They’re living up to our moral code to leave no man behind. We cannot fail them again.
Meanwhile, thousands of Afghans we brought here continue to wait in limbo, and many remain in hiding in Afghanistan due to their service to the United States. For the sake of our Afghan allies, our Afghan veterans and our future service members, the AAA must be passed. As a military mom, it is truly the right thing to do.
Elaine Brye, a resident of Alberton, Mont., is the mom of four military officers, one each in the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines. She is the author of “Be Safe, Love Mom: A Military Mom’s Stories of Courage, Comfort, and Surviving Life on the Homefront.” An Army brat turned ROTC candidate turned military wife, she also spent a year teaching in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she experienced life in a war zone.