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'It’s unthinkable what’s happened': Gold Star mom reflects on turmoil in Afghanistan

Posted at 10:13 AM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 12:13:43-04

DENVER -- Army Staff Sgt. Liam Nevins served four tours of duty, three of them in Afghanistan. He was set to return home in a month when he was killed in Afghanistan on Sept. 21, 2013.

As the U.S. works feverishly to evacuate Americans and the Afghans who have supported coalition troops over the past 20 years, families of those lost in the war are among those struggling to come to terms with what their sacrifices meant.

"It’s difficult to watch because you automatically think it was a waste of so many lives and now it’s going to be a massacre," said Victoria Nevins, Liam's mother.

Nevins said it's hard to watch the images on TV knowing the sacrifices that were made. At the same time, she's worried about the Afghani people of whom her son talked highly.

“I walk away from it. I really have a hard time even watching it," said Nevins.

Her son was part of a special forces unit and developed a bond with several of the translators. She said if he was alive today he would probably want to hop on a plane and help.

"It’s traumatic. It’s just traumatic to watch, and when I was watching them talk about getting the translators out, it had special meaning for me. Because Liam, one of the things he was working on before he got killed was a book on the translators, and he so admired them," said Nevins.

Nevins said it's still unthinkable and she's shocked by how quickly everything unfolded over the past few days as the Taliban quickly took over Afghanistan.

“I think everybody was surprised by that. That’s my sense in watching the news," said Nevins. "What went wrong?”

Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., and other members of Congress on Monday said the U.S. needed to secure the Kabul airport for as long as possible to get all Americans and as many Afghan allies out of the country as quickly as possible before they are killed. He has worked extensively on expanding and streamlining the process for Afghan translators, interpreters and fixers to get special immigrant visas and be allowed into the U.S.

The Colorado Department of Human Services said Monday afternoon that families from Afghanistan have already started arriving to Colorado, but a spokesperson said they could not release specific numbers or data. So far in 2021, about 55% of refugee arrivals have come from Afghanistan. During Fiscal Year 2020, 205 of 422 new arrivals to Colorado (new refugees and special immigrant visa holders) came from Afghanistan.