Today I join with many across New Zealand and around the world as we watch the distressing developments unfold in Afghanistan.
As always, we share in the hope for the respect for human rights in Afghanistan.
I acknowledge the frustration and sadness that some, especially those who served in Afghanistan, may be feeling about the situation.
New Zealand has a long-standing relationship with Afghanistan and it is because of this, we are joining our partners in assisting with the evacuation of those who are in the greatest danger due to the support they provided us when we needed it.
Our deployment was one of New Zealand’s longest-lasting, having involved over 3,500 personnel over two decades and delivered NZ$109 million in official development assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
As a Defence Force, we made a difference to the lives of an entire generation of people.
Those who served in Afghanistan will know first-hand the role we played in assisting the people of Afghanistan, particularly Bamyan – whether through security, infrastructure, agriculture, renewable energy, health or education, we changed the lives of many people, especially women and children.
But there was a cost and we will never forget our 10 comrades who lost their lives during service in Afghanistan. Those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and their whānau, will never be forgotten.
I’m proud of our collective achievements and the effect NZDF had, especially in Bamyan province. Recent events do not diminish our achievements and service.
To those who served in Afghanistan, you can be proud of your role alongside our Afghan partners over the course of the last twenty years to support regional security.
To the colleagues and commanders of those that served in Afghanistan, I encourage you to be attentive and understanding.
Please also connect with those that have left the Regular Force and may not have the ready support of their comrades in arms.
We should all seek to bring the same compassion and comradeship to this difficult time as we displayed during our time in Afghanistan.
If any veteran would like support immediately they can txt 1737 to begin a conversation with a counsellor.
You can also reach out to the health centres, social workers, chaplains and psychologists on your Camp or Base. Click here(external link).
Veterans’ Affairs, 0800 483 8372
Lifeline Aotearoa, 0800 543 354
Samaritans, 0800 726 666
Contact RSA’s District Support Managers