'I hope I did some good,' says soldier who lost both legs in Afghanistan

A former soldier from the Black Country who lost both his legs in an explosion in Afghanistan has spoken of his sorrow at the "soul-destroying" turn of events in the country this week.

Former soldier Scott Yarrington
Former soldier Scott Yarrington

Scott Yarrington's family and friends have been concerned about him more than usual this week as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban.

He is one of thousands of former British soldiers who served in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last 20 years and some of them may have questions about whether their sacrifices were worth it as they witness the tragic scenes in Afghanistan on their television screens.

The former Irish Guard knows more than most about sacrifice.

In 2010 he was leading a team in Helmand Province searching for deadly improvised explosive devices (IEDs) when he stepped on one. The blast caused devastating injuries which led to him losing both his legs. Aged just 25 he was forced to rebuild his life.

Scott Yarrington lost both his legs in a blast

Mr Yarrington, now 36, from Bloxwich, says he does not regret serving in Afghanistan. In fact, he says he would "go back tomorrow" if he could.

But seeing how the country has fallen to the Taliban so soon after the withdrawal of US troops has got him down.

So many families were touched by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of those who did return home have suffered with PTSD and other mental health problems following the horrors that they witnessed.

It won't have escaped many that the crisis in Afghanistan comes just weeks before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks which prompted the initial invasion. The Middle East nation appears to be back at square one after two decades of bloodshed and lost lives.

Scott Yarrington

"I was trying to ignore it," admits the former soldier who also served in Iraq in 2007, unsurprisingly after the ordeal he went through.

"But that many people have been asking me about it. They're worried about my mental health.

"I'm trying to stay positive about it more than anything. I just hope people get out of there and not a lot of people get hurt. I hope it doesn't last long.

"I can't think negatively for my mental health.

What is so depressing, to use the ex-soldier's word, about the current situation in Afghanistan for those who served there is that they went out to help deliver change and improve lives.

The father, who starred at Prince Harry's Invictus Games, winning bronze in wheelchair basketball in 2017, the sport which gave him a focus after the horrors of war, remembers the young children he would see while on patrol.

And it is for that reason he doesn't regret joining the war.

"I'm glad we went there. I'd go back tomorrow," he said.

"The type of war it was, we were never going to win a war like that.

"There were people who were farmers one day and Taliban the next. We went over there and they carried on being farmers until we left. You're not going to win a war like that.

“I try to cling onto the knowledge that when we were over there fighting, there were kids five to 10 years old who have had 10 years of a better life," he says.

A better life they have doubtlessly had, growing up with access to education and some level of stability but what happens from here is uncertain.

“It’s depressed me that it’s gone that way," he said.

"I would have loved it to have carried on and for the Afghan government to have taken control and put laws in place but to see we have come out and it has gone straight back to how it was is depressing and soul-destroying," the ex-soldier says.

He believes the US "should have done more" to ensure Afghanistan could resist a Taliban onslaught.

And, naturally, the crisis has led to questions about whether the UK and US should have invaded at all and if all the sacrifices of the last two decades were worth it.

Mr Yarrington said: "I can see it if the ones who lost people think 'What were we there for?'. It's horrible. It will be really horrible for those who have lost people over there thinking it was for nothing.

"A lot of people are asking the same questions, 'Was it worth it?'. For me, I hope it was. I hope I did some good for some people."

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