ST. LOUIS — The U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan was America's longest war, lasting nearly 20 years.
"Coming home, it's hard. You encounter a changed world and the world encounters you differently," United States Marines veteran Pete Lucier said.
Lucier was a United States Marine from 2008 to 2013, serving 7 months in Afghanistan.
"We were the infantry. We were the folks that were just doing combat patrols twice a day standing posts, drinking Chai with the locals and trying to buy chickens and cheap cigarettes, and watching out for Taliban waiting to get shot at," Lucier said.
He enlisted at 18 years old after graduating from St. Louis University High School. He did boot camp and infantry school in California before deploying to Guantanamo Bay, Spain, Bahrain, and then Afghanistan.
"It's a perverse and difficult world full of hard choices that you have to make every single day and you're 21 years old and you're surrounded by your best friends and you have a gun," Lucier said.
Retired Navy Captain Joe McClain discusses the challenges veterans face after returning home from deployment. He works with veterans and active service duty members through the Help Heal Veterans nonprofit organization.
"It could be the stress of being part of an IED or something like that and then seeing what happens to maybe your friends and comrades from a combustive blast and IED or a rocket attack or maybe you're under fire," McClain said.
"I remember because I had a friend who was in a different battalion that got there a little later than us and on Memorial Day weekend of 2012, my buddy Mike stepped on an IED and lost both of his legs," Lucier said.
Lucier says the best way to honor Veterans Day is to volunteer your time to help those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
"There are significant challenges facing the veteran community and some of that comes from 20 years of war and having been through the wringer, and it's sad and it's tough and it's not an easy thing," Lucier said.
Lucier continues his work with the International Institute of St. Louis to help resettle Afghans whose lives are at risk with the Taliban takeover. For more information on how you can help, visit the International Institute of St. Louis website.
You can find more information on Joe McClain's work by visiting the Help Heal Veterans website.