September 23, 2021

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British veterans of the war in Afghanistan will feel vulnerable, says minister | British army

British veterans of the conflict in Afghanistan will feel vulnerable and question whether their service was worth it as they once again witness the country’s fall to the Taliban, a British government minister said.

James Heappey, the Minister of the Armed Forces and former British Army officer, was forced to backtrack during media interviews Monday over a claim he made that a soldier who served in Afghanistan had taken off his life in the last days.

Heappey told Sky News that the soldier had committed suicide over the withdrawal of foreign forces and the subsequent resurgence of the Taliban, but in subsequent interviews with other media, he said he appeared to be wrong.

On the BBC Radio 4 Today program, he said that while he was “embarrassed” that he had made the mistake, he made an “important point” that Afghanistan veterans would feel “more vulnerable” and wonder if their service was worth it.

Heappey, who has done at least two tours in Afghanistan, including Sangin in Helmand province in 2009, said: “At this particular time it is the veterans of the conflict in Afghanistan who are feeling particularly vulnerable and all we can do to tell them. their service is valued, we respect it, it was not in vain it is important “.

He spoke as the Taliban claimed to have taken control of the Panjshir Valley, the last Afghan province that stands to resist their rule.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce an additional £ 5 million to help military charities offering mental health support to veterans with the aim of ensuring “no veteran’s help goes unanswered”.

Johnson and the foreign minister, Dominic Raab, have both come under criticism for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and their response after the Taliban seizure of power.

The Taliban took control of Afghanistan three weeks ago, taking power in Kabul on August 15 after the collapse of the West-backed government and the president, Ashraf Ghani, who left the country.

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Heappey said he revealed details of the apparent suicide after seeing a note posted on social media.

“A suicide note was shared on social media late last week referring in very, very accurate detail to the tour I served with 2 Rifles in Sangin in 2009,” he said.

“I am deeply embarrassed to have reflected on something that I had seen on social media and it seemed very true to me and it affected me deeply.”