U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the first female combat veteran elected to the U.S. Senate and a Global War on Terror veteran is joining fellow Senate Armed Services Committee members in calling on Chairman Jack Reed (D-R.I.) to exercise the committee’s authority by holding hearings on the mishandled U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Specifically, the senators requested testimony from senior military leaders, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, Commander of U.S. Central Command General Frank McKenzie, Jr., and the final commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, General A. Scott Miller.
In their letter, Ernst and her colleagues write, “The American people, and in particular many of those who serve our country in uniform, are hurting, angry, and disappointed. We owe them a clear and comprehensive understanding of what happened, why, and how best to learn from these events for the future.”
They go on to say, “We owe it to our nation, those who served, their families, and our allies and partners who fought alongside us, to preserve the records of how our fight in Afghanistan concluded. The insights we gather will help prevent future loss of American blood and treasure, a solemn responsibility and sacred trust we believe all members of our committee will seek to uphold.”
After President Biden ended the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, Senator Ernst issued a statement saying in part, “What a surreal and gut-wrenching reality: America left our own behind. The president broke our promise to American citizens and to those who bravely served alongside us.”
Last week, Ernst joined her colleagues in pressing the Biden Administration for details regarding the status and recovery methods of American citizens, green card holders, and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants in Afghanistan, including what measures the administration is taking to keep these people safe until they can get out of Afghanistan.
In a letter to both the Secretaries of State and Defense last month, Ernst pressed the Biden Administration for answers on the safety of American citizens and details on the plans to get them out of Afghanistan. Ernst also urged President Biden to devote all means necessary to evacuate American citizens and eligible Afghan partners from Afghanistan.
With reports finding an uptick in calls to veterans’ suicide hotlines since the fall of Kabul, Ernst joined Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) last week in calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs to increase outreach to veterans of Afghanistan and the Global War on Terror—providing access to the mental health services and care they need.
-Sen Joni Ernst