Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held its first hearing into the disaster that unfolded in Kabul in August of 2021.  As a veteran who left limbs in Afghanistan, it was difficult to hear from those on the front lines as they recounted the final days of the withdrawal that resulted in the deaths of thirteen servicemembers.

The Committee heard powerful testimony from the U.S. Marine Sergeant Tyler Vargas-Andrews, who lost two limbs in the bombing by the ISIS-K suicide bomber on August 26, 2021.  He recounted the scene in the days before his injury and how he saw a young girl squeeze her way through the crowd towards him while holding who he assumed to be her younger brother.  When he saw the baby’s face was blue, he knew he needed to help him.

Hear his testimony here:

Sgt. Vargas-Andrews had a powerful message of service and sacrifice: “My personal injury was worth it,” he said.  ”I know those three little kids are going to have a life of freedom and opportunity now, because of it.”  This Afghan family’s story could have ended in tragedy, like thousands did.  But because of his actions, they were reunited.

Sgt. Vargas-Andrews made a difference.  Just as the millions of men and women who have served in Afghanistan in the past 20 years have made a difference.

Afghanistan was not lost by those who wore the uniform.  It was not lost by those who hiked through mountains and deserts and left blood, sweat, and tears on the battlefield.  It was lost by those on Pennsylvania Avenue.

And so, to my brothers and sisters in arms, never doubt that your service mattered.  You defended our nation and kept it safe from terrorist attacks for two decades.  I’m grateful to each and every one of you, and I salute you.

If you, or a veteran you know, needs help, dial 988 and press 1, or text 838255.  You are not alone.