Over the next two years all U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan are expected to return home. That announcement was made by the President this week. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports what that could mean for the more than 20 thousand Mississippi troops who have deployed to the region over the past 13 years.
As the conflict in Afghanistan winds down, John Bruce, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Mississippi says the state will see several lasting benefits.
" There will be a social benefit as families are reunited. There will be a financial benefit as these men and women who have been deployed will resume their economic lives in the state and begin being tax payers and voters and taking part in the economic structure in the state. And obviously there's a humanity aspect to it. As conflict ends we have less chance of losing residents in Mississippi to military conflict.
In addition, Lieutenant Colonel Christian Powell of the Mississippi National Guard, says the troop withdrawal will also free up resources to confront emergency situations here in Mississippi.
"You may recall the recent tornadoes that we had in Louisville and Tupelo. Our guardsmen responded to that and did an excellent job. We have the dual role in the National Guard, we protect our states and then when we are called to serve on federal active duty we are more than willing to pack up and protect the United States."
While having Mississippi troops home has enormous benefits, Bruce says one downside is that many of the soldiers will return with some degree of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"And that will reduce their ability to fully integrated into society. It will reduce their potential to be productive members of society unless we treat it. And that requires a collaborative effort of the state and of the federal government. But it is what we owe these people who have put their lives on the line so that we can allow them to fully return and be part of Mississippi again."
Presently about 150 members of the Mississippi National Guard are stationed in Afghanistan. They are members of the 858 Engineering Company Horizontal which is headquartered in Calhoun City and has a detachment in Okolona. The group is expected to return to Mississippi in the next few weeks. Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.