BUCHANAN, Va. (WFXR) — The year of 2021 has been difficult for many people. There have been a range of issues because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a lot of people felt pain watching the events unfold in Afghanistan, as U.S. troops withdrew from the war.
Retired Sgt. Andrew Kintgen says he can understand the struggles so many of his fellow veterans are facing.
“My first tour in Iraq was 2006, and my last tour in Iraq was 2011, when we closed it out. And I spent a couple months in Kuwait as a back-up just in case, in Iraq, bad things happened again,” Kintgen said. “But after I came home from the close-out of Iraq, within a year later, the terrorist cell ISIS took over and committed mass genocide throughout Iraq. So for me, it felt like, ‘What did I fight that war for?'”
Kintgen signed up for the Army because of 9/11. Like so many others, he felt it was his duty to help protect our country.
“I wanted to be an American patriot. I wanted to serve my country,” said Kintgen.
Now, watching the Taliban take over Afghanistan, many veterans of that war have been asking, “Was my service worth it?”
“In the end, all soldiers, every job we did, we signed a blank paycheck with our lives. And we did that as a volunteer. We did what the government asked us to do, and we came home with the ones that we were able to bring home,” said Kintgen.
Meanwhile, Lois Fritz, the founder of New Freedom Farm, shares the story of a Gold Star Mother.
“They replay that day that the knock came on their door, that their child was killed in action. And you know, she made a really good point on her social media post that he didn’t die in vain. He served his country and it is what it is today. It’s sad for her, sad for all of us, that so many lives have been lost and nothing has been solved,” said Fritz.
Fritz says she’s received a tremendous number of calls from people looking for help following the end of the War in Afghanistan. She’s also getting a lot more visitors at New Freedom Farm.
“I tell them they are not alone. That is the most important thing we can say right now, that every one of your feelings are valid. The feeling that it was all for nothing is valid. It’s 100 percent valid, and this is a safe place to come to with like-minded people,” said Fritz.
Whether it’s the pain of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001 or the pain of today’s events, Fritz says don’t deal with it alone. It’s important to be around friends.
It’s why she invites people to Freedom Fest 2021. It’s a great way for the community to come together.
Freedom Fest kicks off Saturday, Sept. 11 and runs every weekend through Sept. 26. It’s being held at New Freedom Farm in Buchanan from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each weekend day.
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