Learn more. Subscribe today!

A Chicano in Afghanistan

By Latino USA at NPR

Villagers in Afghanistan describe the loss of family members to visiting journalists and ex-soldiers returning to the region.

With waning public support, a recent presidential election marred in controversy, and a confidential military assessment leaked to the press in recent weeks, President Obama says he is “weighing option” in terms of the conflict in Afghanistan. Add to this reports that the Taliban is gaining ground in the region, and it’s clear that U.S. interests in the region are at risk.

Former Marine Rick Reyes.

When the war began early this decade, the decision to go after those responsible for the World Trade Center and Pentagon bombings took little convincing. And for Rick Reyes, a former Marine who grew up in East Los Angeles, there was little question about the decision to invade. After serving a tour in Afghanistan, Reyes went on to serve a tour in Iraq.

Reyes war experience, obviously, left him a changed person. This was not a traditional war against an easily recognizable enemy that you engage and destroy. In many cases, it was impossible to distinguish an enemy combatant from a local resident. And for many, all local residents became the enemy. But Reyes rejected that type of thinking.

Recently, Reyes returned to Afghanistan for the first time since serving as a soldier in 2001. Independent Producer Reese Erlich accompanied him, as Reyes went on a listening tour as part of a group of veterans against the war.

See Rick Reyes’ testimony on April 23, 2009 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.