Local Veterans' Reactions to Iraq

RENO, NV - Iraqi War veterans at home are keeping a close eye on what is happening overseas. A few of them spoke with KOLO 8 Monday about why they're concerned.

For some veterans, Iraq became their home for about four years, sometimes more.

"You think about all the people, all the things you did when you were there, all the things you saw, and now, it's all sort of falling a part,"

Samantha Szesciorka saw it all unfold. Everything from combat, to humanitarian aid operations, she captured while spending four years in Iraq as an army combat journalist. However, the stories that meant the most to her were from the people she met there.

"I had a really wonderful experience in Tal Afar. While, I was there, it was a very happy occasion. I was there for the opening of new city center. Everybody in the whole town were there to celebrate and the kids were playing," she said.

A breaking news alert on Sunday showed her that the city she grew to love had been seized.

"What happened to those people? Are they okay? Are they still alive? What happened to that beautiful city center that we came to celebrate the building of?"

Szesciorka is now left wondering if all the sacrifices she and her troops made were in vain.

"I didn't do much. I just went there and filmed, but I filmed a lot of soldiers do amazingly wonderful things there, putting a lot of work, a lot of effort and in some cases, giving up their lives," she said. "When I think of all the hard work, other service members doing, what was that for now?"

She's not alone. Kiran Hill spent many years in Iraq, mainly a military contractor but also helped train Iraqi military groups in 2008.

"We were doing convoys all over Iraq. We went to all the most dangerous areas and it was all safe then," she said. I feel like they took a victory and threw it away.

As all their hard work seem to unravel, all Hill and Szesciorka can do is watch.

"It's horrible," he said. "Everything that we did in the last so many years has gone down the drain and all those lives that were lost were for no reason."

Despite the loss, they both say they would go back now if that's what it takes.


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