WILLIAMSPORT — In his State of the Union address, President Obama is expected to announce the withdrawal of thousands of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by this time next year.
The war in Afghanistan has gone on for more than a decade.
It has cost lives and money and the president’s move to bring about half the troops home from that country is expected to be a big relief for military families.
If all goes according to the president’s plan, combat operations in Afghanistan will come to an end next year.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama is expected to announce 34,000 troops will come home by this time next year.
At the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Williamsport, Annie Ostrom helps military families deal with deployments and adjust to life back home.
“It’s going to be a big relief, because the soldiers are going to be coming home. We know that there are other missions that take its place they need to go over for a short amount of time and help with,” said Ostrom who lost her own son in Iraq. Ostrom knows all too well the toll that war is taking on families in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.
“We have soldiers been on 4 and 5 deployments, that’s a strain on the family,” she said.
Since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq started, about 50 members of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard have lost their lives, countless others have been injured. Now with thousands of troops set to come home within a year’s time, what happens to them?
“The VA is going to be flooded with return of troops coming back from the Gulf war, they say we’re going to skyrocket, VA will be overwhelmed with claims,” said George Heiges who heads up the Lycoming County Office of veterans Affairs.
Heiges said many times, returning troops struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and it’s important for them to seek help.
It’s important, as well, for family and friends to be there when the fighting is over.
“Lend a hand, give them an ear, be a friend, a buddy, don’t shun them, the last thing we want to do is push these people away,” said Heiges.
No matter how many troops do come home in the next couple years it is still not clear how many men and women will remain stationed in Afghanistan.