GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As Americans were preparing to cast their ballots in the 2012 presidential election, U.S. troops were approaching 11 years fighting the war on terrorism.
The war, which began with the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City in 2001, has lasted nearly two decades. Throughout the time, thousands have sacrificed their lives and others sacrificed their bodies, returning home with permanent injuries.
2012 was also the year that West Michigan learned that some of its own were apart of that sacrifice. In May 2012, 10 National Guard members, who were stationed in Dowagiac, were injured in an attack in Afghanistan. Family members of one of those troops, Eric Lund, said he lost both arms when the a bomb went off.
“He lost a lot of blood. There was a lot of blood transfusion, so yes, we’re very blessed that he is alive,” Lund’s aunt Michelle Boggs told News 8 crews following the 2012 incident.
President Joe Biden announced Wednesday he would begin bringing the remaining American soldiers home next month.
“I am now the fourth United States president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans, two Democrat. I will not pass this responsibility onto a fifth,” Biden said. “It’s time to end America’s longest war. It’s time to bring American troops home.”
The May start date is a part of a plan set in motion by the Trump administration, which originally wanted to have all troops removed from Afghanistan by May 1. Currently there are about 2,500 still there.
“I know there are families in West Michigan, some are probably rejoicing. Some are going to be looking at this with a solemn sense of frustration at our inability to achieve a victorious outcome, but at the end of the day, these are moments that we have to face reality and not continue to compound already tragic circumstances,” U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer said.
Meijer, who is from West Michigan, served in Iraq in 2010 and 2011. He later returned to the Middle East, gathering intelligence for a nonprofit in Afghanistan. He says throughout his service, it was frustrating that there was no clear goal for the United States’ involvement in the war.
“The only way this conflict ends is through a negotiated political solution, not through military ends,” Meijer said. “We’ve been trying the military application for almost 20 years and it has not been successful, and just delaying the inevitable further means more Americans are risking their lives.”
Meijer says he’s proud of those who fought and agrees it’s time to bring the troops home.
“This is going to be a difficult moment to process. There’s no good outcome or solution here that is on the horizon, and I hope that we can move to a point where our presence and our involvement in these regions is promoting stability. I think that is going to be the best outcome for all of the investment, for all of the blood and treasure that has gone into our conflicts,” Meijer said.
The U.S. is expected to pull all remaining troops by September.