Like many Americans I’ve been horrified by the news from Kabul this past week and wondering how to help Afghanistan.

As a military spouse, I’m grappling with complex emotions:

relief the daunting ops tempo may slow and therefore ease the strain on service members and their families stretched thin by two decades of sustained deployments;

grief over the lives broken and lost in Afghanistan;

anger at the leaders we trusted to make wise decisions about America’s departure, and

heart-wrenching fear for the plight of the Afghan people who remain in Afghanistan as America departs.

But my emotions are even more complex because Afghanistan isn’t merely a location over there – it’s a country I’ve spent time in, filled with women and children who aren’t merely statistics or stories on the news.

How to help Afghanistan: Be Generous

When my husband retired after 25 years in the Air Force last summer, the retiring official made a point to acknowledge me for my time served in Afghanistan – an ironic reality given the Air Force recruiters turned me down when I called them on September 12, 2001.

I spent just under two weeks on the ground in Afghanistan in 2008, as a representative of Mrs. Laura Bush, preparing for her third and final visit to Afghanistan as First Lady of the United States.

Those days changed me then and they’ve guided me many times as a military spouse and a mother.

Her visit was a secret, so our advance team flew in on a C-17, complete with a corkscrew combat landing onto the runway at Kabul International Airport.  Those same C-17s are now airlifting hundreds of evacuees to safety – including one flight on August 15, 2021, with 823 people on board, including 183 children.

How to Help Afghanistan: Be Generous

While in Afghanistan preparing for Mrs. Bush’s 2008 visit, I met Afghans leading the efforts to reestablish education and literacy centers for women and children.  I flew to Bamiyan province where Mrs. Bush met with Habiba Sarabi, the first female governor of an Afghan province. She also met brave women training to be local police officers and toured a local school for young girls.

I marveled listening to women weaving rugs and telling Mrs. Bush how establishing their own businesses had changed the trajectory of their families and communities: a future that once looked dark with despair had been filled with light and hope.

Mrs. Laura Bush with Governor Habiba Sarabi, the first female governor in Afghanistan (Bamiyan Province, 2008)

After leaving the White House, Mrs. Bush continued her commitment to Afghanistan through the U.S. Afghan Women’s Council and multiple initiatives through The Bush Center in Dallas, Texas.  As her speechwriter, I had the great honor of listening to several conversations with Afghan women, like Dr. Sakeena Yacoobi, who ran underground literacy centers during the Taliban’s previous rule.

Now she runs more than 40 women’s centers across Afghanistan providing hundreds of thousands of women with literacy and health classes.

“Don’t be sorry for us,” Dr. Yacoobi implored an audience in 2010.


How to Help Afghanistan: Be Generous

For two decades, Americans have stood with the Afghan people.

What began as American women responding to tragedy in 2001 has become two decades of progress for women and girls in Afghanistan.

Educated women and girls now run businesses and serve in the military, local police forces, and as provincial mayors.  Female doctors now provide greater access to healthcare after decades of Taliban restrictions keeping women from seeing male doctors.

This progress would not have been possible without the generosity of many Americans especially our service members and their families.

Military spouses like me have packed more care packages than we can count.

We’ve held our breath for years, waiting for deployment news, pacing sleepless nights longing for safe reunions, and cried with friends who’ve lost loved ones.

We have been more generous than perhaps we realized – so the devastation of the past week has hurt in ways we perhaps never imagined.

How to Help Afghanistan: Be Generous

Many of my friends have prayed for the day they would no longer worry about sending their spouse to Afghanistan.  But watching this expedited exit has left us reeling.

Too many poorly written headlines about “failure” feel like slaps in the face.

I appreciate the leaders from all branches of service who’ve taken the time to say, “Your service was not in vain.”

This needs to be said often, repeated daily, and loudly.

Political leaders may choose to debate the policy and politics, but every one of them ought to begin every statement by thanking the military members who have saluted four different U.S. Presidents as Commander in Chief and gotten the job done.

How to Help Afghanistan: Be Generous

The latest stories and images from Afghanistan are devastating:

hundreds running after and climbing on a departing C-17; dozens of people with clearance to evacuate unable to get to the airport; children trampled by crowds fleeing Taliban shooting in the streets.

Women are forced to choose between being killed for opening their businesses or returning to hiding.

In a mere matter of days, two decades of progress is in question.

But there should be no question about what each of us can do – continue to be generous.

How to Help Afghanistan: Be Generous

Our generosity may look different as our military footprint decreases and disappears, but we can still choose to stand with Afghanistan.

Friends, we steward our pain by giving it purpose.

We silence the lie that our work was all in vain by continuing to live the values that launched our efforts in the first place: belief in the dignity and worth of every life, respect for women who make families, communities, and countries stronger, and love for the children who represent the future of our world.

How to Help Afghanistan: Be Generous

Perhaps you, like me, are sitting at home wondering, “What now?” Be generous.


I’m offering below several ways to collaborate with trusted partners who are generously wielding their expertise, resources, and contacts to help assist Afghans seeking refuge and fleeing Afghanistan. Many of these individuals have helped the United States and our allies and now face certain death by the Taliban.


Be generous financially – if you can provide a monetary donation, email me and I can provide specific instructions for a tax-deductible donation to a 501c3 organization coordinating funds for chartered evacuation flights.


Be generous to U.S. – Afghan Women’s Council trusted organizations providing services and support to Afghans.



Be generous with your influence: Use your voice, social media presence, and network to advocate for the President and Congress to take action to curtail Taliban’s brutality and to contend against gender-based violence.


Be generous with your gratitude:  At every opportunity, thank the members of our military, their families, and our diplomats who have served in Afghanistan.  Refrain from offering political opinions – simply say thank you for saluting and serving.  If they want to process their emotions right now, be present and listen.


If you, or a service member, military spouse, or veteran you know are struggling, reach out for help.


Be generous in prayer: Pray for the protection and comfort of those trapped in Afghanistan. There is no greater way to stand with Afghans than to kneel in prayer.

Thank you for your generosity.

The current situation is dire, but I am not without hope.

I am encouraged by women like Dr. Yacoobi who recently wrote to supporters saying, “While we are afraid, we are not defeated.”

She added, “Ideas do not disappear so easily. One cannot kill whispers on the wind. The Taliban cannot crush a dream. We will prevail, even if it takes longer than we wanted it to.”