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Holidays could be especially tough this year for veterans of Afghanistan conflict

Afghan-Iraqi Freedom Memorial
Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs
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The Afghan-Iraqi Freedom Memorial is on the grounds of the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs headquarters in Salem.

Advocates say the holidays could be especially tough this year for veterans of the war in Afghanistan.

Joe Mah served with the US Army in Afghanistan nearly a decade ago. But watching news coverage of the recent pullout of American forces, "it felt like it was just yesterday,” he said.

Mah works with vets on college campuses for the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs. But he said the recent developments in Afghanistan have opened wounds in people who served there at any time over the past 20 years.

“We would encourage people to come forward to those veterans, and straightforward ask them how they’re doing," he said. "Ask them if they’re considering self-harm. Listen without judgement. And then take them to the resources to get help.”

Mah said a good place to start is the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs website, which includes a map and phone numbers for federal and state resources for vets of any era.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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