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VFWs in North Dakota urge veterans to reach out to others

Veterans of Foreign Wars leaders across North Dakota are trying to get the word out, telling area veterans who spent time in Afghanistan that their hometowns are there to help.

CASSELTON, N.D. — Following the emotional and troubling stories out of Afghanistan recently, many veterans who fought there during deployment are discovering they are still struggling.

Kraig Bittner has been out of the Marines for just over 10 years. He spent time in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Despite years away from his time in those two deployments, it has been hard to watch the images coming out of Afghanistan, where his fellow Marines have been called on to help in the evacuation effort. Some have died doing so.

"It does wear on you, and you lose sleep over it, wondering if it was all worth it," Bittner said. "Being at work on that Thursday when they were tallying up the number of dead during the bombing, they could see I was emotional, and I tried to bottle that up at work."

That is why Bittner, who is the VFW Post Commander in Casselton and Vice Commander in the state VFW, sent a letter out to veterans in our region.

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"You are not alone if you have lost sleep reflecting on our service, struggled while seeing the evacuation unfold," the letter reads. "Call, text or contact at least one of the brothers and sisters you served alongside in Afghanistan."

Bittner said veterans should connect with their local VFW clubs so they can attend upcoming socials or meetings. People who have served in other wars may lend a good listening ear.

"You might not be able to be face to face with those you deployed with, but there are some local guys you can sit down and share and get some of those emotions out in a positive way," he said.

For those struggling years after serving, it may come down to a simple phone call or walking into a VFW hall to make the difference in a vet's life right now.

Related Topics: WELLNESSCASSELTON
Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

Contact Email: kwallevand@wday.com
Phone Number: (701) 241-5317
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