GREENSBORO, N.C. – A Triad veteran and purple heart recipient said the effects of war in Afghanistan have permanently changed his own life, after he served there for three months in 2009.
Grady Bendel served as a Stryker, or armored vehicle driver, but said they were always working, whether that was patrolling, or meeting and greeting the locals. On October 13, 2009, his vehicle ran over an IED while on the way to a meet and greet at a local village. He says they never went the same way twice, knowing that the enemy planted bombs along their tracks. But that day, they were surrounded.
“Shortly after I turned, and IED went off, and it had my name on it,” said Bendel, “I wasn't scared...if anything I was pissed. And I still am.”
Because of the blast, Bendel lost part of his leg. He says the experience changed him, but he’s taking it a day at a time, with the support of his family and other veterans and veteran organizations. He says every veteran should get support when they need it.
“We all deserve it, everyone from you know, paper pushers to front line. We all had a part we all did something, and if you guys need to do something just look around it's not far,” he said.
As far as the plans in Afghanistan, Bendel says he doesn’t keep up with it normally. But Monday, he tuned into watch the President’s speech outlining plans in the country, and holding other nations – like Pakistan – accountable for housing terrorists.
“There's a lot of guys out there fighting for it, and I don't think it's as respected as much as it should be,” he said about the war there. It’s been going on for 16 years now, and while he decided not to share a specific opinion about it – he said it is important to keep American interests top of mind.
“I think that if we should fight for anybody, it should be for our country, we should be helping our own people,” Bend said, “We spent a lot of money on everybody else, but if were so into debt, why are we not doing that well? Why do we have people living on the street?”