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Mental health calls rise at Mt. Carmel as U.S. troops leave Afghanistan

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO)-- The last U.S troops have left Afghanistan after nearly two decades, ending America's longest war.  

While the war might physically be ending, mentally, the war cast lingering effects on several veterans.

Representatives from Mt. Carmel, a local nonprofit offering veteran mental health services, told KRDO they've been inundated with calls from veterans looking for help since troops began exiting Afghanistan.

"Mt. Carmel counsels approximately 150 veterans each week, but right now we have a waitlist for counseling services," said Lindsey Caroon. "We're having to reach out to other services in the community, or ask people who are reaching out for mental health counseling to wait."

Justin Verhulst, an Afghan War veteran, said watching the Taliban gain control over Afghanistan after the U.S. began exiting was painful.

"This is a huge traumatic event, and a lot of us already had PTSD, and you throw this onto the pile and it just, it weighs really heavy on the heart," he continued. "It feels like someone pushed delete on the keyboard. It's like all this progress we made, what was it all for?"

Gulf War veteran Timothy Gore is running a race in a few weeks to raise money for Mt. Carmel. He wants to try to help the organization reach more veterans.

"I think it's a good thing because that means we are reaching people and people are coming to get help," he shares. "They realize that they are not alone. They realize that there is a place to go."

But as the final planes have left, the memories for Verhulst and many other veterans have not.

"All I could think about were all the people that were left behind," he said. "The interpreters that I work with, these people that we made promises to [who were]just trying to get out and have better lives."

For help through Mt. Carmel, click here.

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Spencer Soicher

Spencer is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about him here.

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