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One year later, Iowa veterans reflect on the U.S. exit from Afghanistan

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

The last U.S. military forces departed Afghanistan one year ago Aug. 30, following a chaotic two-week withdrawal process while the nation fell under Taliban rule.

River to River host Ben Kieffer visits again with Iowa veterans who were featured during the Leaving Afghanistan series. Army veteran Samuel Braun of Ainsworth and Marine Corps veteran Erik Eldridge of North Liberty offer their thoughts about the exit, during which more than 120,000 people were evacuated. Days before the final withdrawal, 13 U.S. service members and at least 170 Afghans were killed in an attack outside the Kabul airport.

They also reflect on their service and the aftermath of the decades-long war, and weigh in on the conflict in Ukraine and President Joe Biden's signed legislation expanding health care benefits for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.


  • Samuel Braun, Army combat veteran
  • Erik Eldridge, retired artillery officer, Marine Corps
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.