The helter-skelter week in Afghanistan hit close to home for Northeastern students with U.S. military experience. The frenetic unwinding of America’s 20-year presence has spurred a graduate who once worked on navy submarines to advocate on behalf of Afghan refugees. Another, an air force veteran, was left disillusioned with why the U.S. was there in the first place.
“All this money, all of these lives lost, what are we doing there?” Amanda Knowles recalls thinking as she wipes away tears. Knowles flew more than 100 combat missions over Afghanistan during her six years with the U.S. Air Force. She was an engineer working with top secret airborne communications equipment when she decided to pursue a graduate degree at Northeastern in global studies and international relations.
“Part of the reason I separated from the military and chose to pursue higher education was the realization of how inadequate our mission there was in terms of building peace.”
Knowles says she remains “very proud” of her service. Her epiphany was slow in developing at first but began in earnest around 2014 during Afghanistan’s presidential elections when she was flying 20-hour sorties.