(CNSNews.com) -- Since October 2001, when the Afghanistan war began, 1,798 children and 1,107 widows had their loved ones pass away in the conflict, according to CNSNews.com’s database of U.S. casualties.
In the more than 12 years that have passed since U.S. troops first entered Afghanistan, 2,195 service personnel have given their lives in and around Afghanistan in support of U.S. military activities in that country. Those 2,195 men and women left behind a combined 2,905 widows and children -- 2,083 of those widows and children, or 71.7%, came after President Barack Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009.
Most of the deaths that occurred during this time, 87.4 percent, were due to combat-related incidents such as improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades, small arms fire, and helicopter crashes. A smaller number, 12.6 percent of the deaths were non-combat related, meaning they were either due to accidents or natural causes.
CNSNews.com spoke with Nick Ochsner, one of the 1,798 children whose father passed away in the Afghanistan war. Jim Ochsner was a green beret dedicated to military service, as he spent 18 years in the Army and passed away in the Afghanistan War in 2005.
“When your loved one is killed, it’s a very sudden thing. It’s a very sudden loss, and it’s maybe even more impactful when they’re killed overseas, and so you really don’t know what to do. There are a lot of questions you have, a lot of uncertainty you have,” Ochsner said.
“My dad, all he wanted to do was be a green beret, and so he did that, and he died doing absolutely what he loved – helping the Afghan people, serving his country. And so, you know, absolutely the coolest man on earth,” said the son. “I love talking about my dad every chance I get, and it’s awesome to be able to share his story.”
Nick Ochsner is also a member of the Freedom Alliance, a group that helps the sons and daughters of American heroes, U.S. military personnel who have been killed or permanently disabled due to war.
“Frankly, without the Freedom Alliance, I wouldn’t have been able to go to school,” Ochsner said. “It’s great that the Freedom Alliance exists to step in and help Gold Star kids and other military members figure out how to get to school, and without the Freedom Alliance, it definitely wouldn’t have been possible.”
Most recently, the Freedom Alliance kicked off Military Appreciation Month with a special gift for a Marine who lost his legs in Afghanistan.
On May 1, 2014, Sgt. James “Matt” Amos received a custom-made, all-terrain wheelchair from the Freedom Alliance. Often, it’s difficult for injured service members to obtain a wheelchair like this, because they are expensive, and insurance does not usually cover it.
“Matt Amos is a good man and an American hero who served our country on three deployments with the Marine Corps. This chair is a small token of our appreciation for his service and sacrifice. I hope it brings him comfort and the ability to enjoy nature and his favorite activities more easily,” said Tom Kilgannon, president of the Freedom Alliance.