The Corps’ top leadership is encouraging Marines, past and present, to reach out to one another as scenes of the Taliban walking through a conquered Kabul, Afghanistan, and thousands who helped the U.S. now seek to the flee the country mark the end of the nearly 20-year war.

As the Taliban quickly captured nearly all of Afghanistan while the U.S. focused on troop withdrawal, some Afghanistan war veterans have been questioning their service and the sacrifices of their friends and family.

“This is a time to come together and give further meaning to our motto, Semper Fidelis,” reads a Wednesday letter signed by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy Black.

“Let us remain faithful to our fellow Marines, faithful to our Marine families and faithful to the memories of all who have sacrificed,” Black and Berger wrote.

Beyond encouraging Marines to reach out to their brothers and sisters in arms, the two Marines wanted those who served in Afghanistan to know their fight did have meaning.

“We both believe ― without question ― that your service was meaningful, powerful, and important,” Black and Berger wrote.

“Since 2001, Marines have served honorably and courageously to bring peace to the people of Afghanistan. You should take pride in your service — it gives meaning to the sacrifice of all Marines who served, including those whose sacrifice was ultimate,” the letter adds.

In anticipation of the end of the war the Department of Veterans Affairs has been preparing for an increase of requests for mental health help.

Two battalions of Marines are now in Afghanistan, defending Hamid Karzai International Airport in the hopes of allowing roughly 22,000 Americans, Afghan interpreters, American allies and other vulnerable Afghan populations escape the Taliban.

In the letter Berger and Black point out the good the Marines who served in Afghanistan fought for.

“You put the good of others before yourself. You fought to defend your country, your family, your friends and your neighbors. You fought to prevent terror from returning to our shores. You fought for the liberty of young Afghan girls, women, boys and men who want the same individual freedoms we enjoy as Americans,” the letter adds.

Beyond the noble goals listed, the commandant and sergeant major said the Marines who served in Afghanistan “set an example for subsequent generations of Marines ― and Americans ― by living our core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment.”

Though they reiterate the value of the sacrifice generations of Marines have made in Afghanistan; they both acknowledge the pain that many have felt since Kabul fell.

“Was it worth it? Yes. Does it still hurt? Yes,” the letter reads.

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