Joplin area veterans reflect on Afghanistan withdrawal ahead of 9-11 anniversary

JOPLIN, Mo. – Dozens of veterans filled a room at the Joplin National Guard Armory, talking about resources available to them and their families at today’s veteran expo.

More info: Resources for veterans, military spouses, families

“Benefits, services, service-related type items, and there are several businesses here looking to hire veterans,” says Patrick Tuttle with American Legion Post 13.

But it’s what went unsaid that’s the bigger story.

“I’ve been reflecting a lot,” says Army veteran Logan Reynolds.

The expo was held two days before the 20 year anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history.

For Reynolds, a Joplin native, it was a day that shaped the path of his entire life.

“In elementary school, they turned the TV’s on and watched the people jumping out of buildings and the towers collapsing,” Reynolds explains. “And ever since then I just wanted to join the Army.”

Another Army veteran, Stephen Bradley, remembers exactly where he was and what he was doing when the towers fell.

“I kept seeing the contrails of the aircraft do U-turns. You don’t see that very often, so I knew something was up,” says Bradley. “We ended up watching the second tower get hit. Then of course the National Guard started calling.”

Both Reynolds and Bradley ended up being deployed to Afghanistan during their time in the service after the war on terror began.

They say seeing how the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan makes them disappointed and frustrated. Adding the 9-11 anniversary onto that makes it even tougher.

“I feel like, you know, we did it for nothing so to speak,” says Bradley. “I’m glad we’re out. I’m glad nobody else has to go back. We protected America, that’s the most important part.”

“It’s really bad timing. It shouldn’t have happened then, and to see 20 years later and to see not a lot has changed…” says Reynolds. “It makes me reflect upon… my life and what I’ve experienced since then. And it’s been a crazy adventure.”

Just some of the thoughts among the crowd today… thoughts that could make it a difficult weekend for many.