At a Congressional hearing on Wednesday, veterans of the Afghan War, some of whom were in tears, implored the government to acknowledge the mistakes made during the retreat and tackle the bureaucratic roadblocks keeping our allies from fleeing the Taliban’s retribution.

At the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, the witnesses shared their stories of the evacuation, which began when the militant group took control on August 15, 2021. Some spoke of the experience as active-duty service members who had to rush to Kabul, while others discussed volunteering to assist those in need in Afghanistan from a distance.

“The withdrawal was a catastrophe, in my opinion, and there was an inexcusable lack of accountability and negligence.”

So said Marine Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews, who was present at a suicide bombing on the outskirts of the city’s airport that caused the death of nearly 200 people, including 13 American service members, and himself losing two limbs, gave a powerful and emotional testimony. 

“Plain and simple, we were ignored,” Sgt Vargas-Andrews said.

He informed legislators that no one had been held accountable for the 13 servicemen who died that day.

“My body was overwhelmed by the trauma of the blast. My abdomen had been ripped open. Every inch of my exposed body took ball bearings and shrapnel,” he said. “I see the faces of all of those we could not save, those we left behind.”