SWFL parents of fallen soldiers have mixed emotions about return of troops in Afghanistan

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Gold Star parents Bill Eggers and Kim Hayes. Credit: WINK News.

Many loved ones are returning home from the 20-year war in Afghanistan. But for two Southwest Florida families, their children are not among those troops.

We spoke to Gold Star Families Friday that told us why leaving Afghanistan is not all good news.

“People are saying right now … ‘Your son died for nothing,’” said Bill Eggers, who respectfully disagrees.

Eggers’ son is U.S. Army Captain Daniel Eggers. He died when his Humvee hit a landmine in Afghanistan.

“Our whole family says that, you know, if he died doing what he was doing, then, it was worth it for him,” Eggers said.

We asked Eggers if it’s worth it to bring the rest home, and we learned quickly that is a complicated question to ask.

“It’s been the endless war,” Eggers said. “It’s not worth another American casualty.”

But Eggers worries the United States might be moving a bit too quickly. He fears for the civilians — Afghan children and families — left behind without any American protection.

“They don’t just kill their enemy. These Taliban, they torture them first and then kill them,” Eggers said. “I can honestly say it’s damned if we do and damned if we don’t.”

Kim Hayes agrees bringing our men and women home is complicated.

“When I hear about these beautiful service members coming home, it’s mixed emotions for me,” Hayes said.

Hayes’ son is U.S. Army Specialist Steve Tayor Hayes. He was proud to be an American and proud to be an American soldier. After an explosion and a landing accident, he dealt with severe PTSD on top of a traumatic brain injury.

“He walked into my house, opened that door, and it was my boy, but a little difficult to recognize,” Hayes explained.

After years of trying to cope with all of his pain, Hayes’ son ultimately died of an accidental drug overdose.

“He had been through a lot,” Hayes said.

President Joe Biden says 90% of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has been completed. All American forces are expected be gone from Afghanistan by Aug. 31.

With active troops set to return home, Kim Hayes is thinking about what they will return home to.

“If you can do one little thing to put the wind in somebody’s sails, that’s having a tough day, improve their life just a little bit, that gives them just a little bit of strength to go on another day,” Hayes said.

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