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Gilmer veteran reacts to bombings in Afghanistan

"They've been fighting a war forever. They just want freedom," said Army veteran Jay Wichlacz.

TEXAS, USA — At least 13 U.S. service members and 60 others were killed in terrorist attacks at an Afghanistan airport Thursday. 

Gilmer resident and Army veteran Jay Wichlacz was saddened by these events but not surprised — he's lived through this himself.

He saw and felt a suicide bombing while serving in Afghanistan in 2014.

“A suicide bomber with ISIS came in through the gates and the explosion was so big, it blew me off of the ground,” he said.

He said bombings were common. To give some perspective, he compared it to a regular person driving to work every day hearing noises from their car and knowing it's about to break down.

“You kind of know something's gonna go wrong eventually, but you're not worrying about the sound because you're focused on the mission," Wichlacz said. "You're focused on getting to work.”

Though the chaos became background noise for him at the time, he couldn't ignore its lasting effects on him. Simple things he used to enjoy aren’t the same anymore.

“I loved fireworks. I loved I love Fourth of July. Now I hear something loud and I want to hit the ground,” he said.

CBS19 asked Wichlacz if he sees an end to these attacks. He said yes.

“I believe it's going to work out because people are going to come to a realization that there's more in life than all this. All this is just where we're at right now. Where we're going is way better,” Wichlacz said. 

Since leaving Afghanistan for the second time in 2017, Wichlacz started a nonprofit to build homes for veterans who need one. To read more about V.A.S.T: Veterans Are Stronger Together, click here.


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