By STARS AND STRIPES
Twenty-two American service members were killed in Afghanistan in 2019, the highest number since NATO combat operations in the country ended at the end of 2014.
Since then, the United States has continued a separate counterterrorism mission.
All but four of the military fatalities in Afghanistan in 2019 were combat-related.
The deaths came as Washington held direct peace talks with the Taliban aimed at the ending the war, the U.S.’s longest, throughout most of the year. The talks are ongoing.
Roughly 13,000 American troops were deployed to Afghanistan at the start of 2020.
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Meet member Jonathan Pylypiv! Jon served over 12 years with the WI Army National Guard with the 1-121st Field Artillery. This included being a driver/gunner doing convoy security missions in Iraq in 2006-2007 during the "Surge." He left the military in 2014 when his son was born to give himself more time with family and to complete a degree at Concordia University.
Jon was born in Ukraine and came to the US when he was 8 years old. Being an immigrant is one of the reasons why he wanted to serve our nation and continues to serve in our community with nonprofit organizations. He encourages fellow veterans to find ways to help in their community as part of their "new mission" after they leave the military too.
Jon is self-employed part-time with his new organic farm, as a technology handyman and as a member/owner of a hard cider business. He's also working with others to launch a military/veteran/family cooperative enterprise to support other entrepreneurs
and local economic growth.
Jon has been growing out his beard ever since he left the military and will be shaving it in January as part of a fundraiser to help a friend in Ukraine who runs an organization called Orphans Future. This is a Ukrainian nonprofit that helps children in Ukraine that were deprived of parental care.
Presently, Jon is enrolled in the Nonprofit Leadership Initiative program and says he is learning among some incredible community leaders. He's grateful that the Desert Veterans of the Wisconsin Fox Valley has helped cover some of the tuition costs. The program is a tremendous help as he continues to learn, grow, and serve with others in our community..
Meet member Brian Smits! Brian served in the US Air Force from 1988 to 2011 as a Ground Equipment Mechanic and then switched his MOS to Public Health at Travis Air Force Base. Brian deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Storm. He is proud to have completed two Iron Man competitions, completing one in 14 hours and the other in 15.