PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — Earnest Tyson, a personal trainer at Stone Dragon in Pinellas Park, was a senior in high school when America was attacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001.
"You are never going to forget walking into a classroom and that image of hitting a building, hitting a building, and people running," said Earnest Tyson, U.S. Air Force veteran, "I was angry about it all the time."
So he decided to do something to help. Tyson joined the U.S. Air Force and over a span of 10 years, he did two tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He says now when September 11th comes around, the anger he once felt is different.
"After a while, you think about it and you went over there, you did your part to help, you helped change history. We caught Bin Laden. So the positivity comes out," said Tyson.
It's a positivity that Tyson tries to focus on. Especially in a time like right now, where many veterans are overwhelmed with emotion after U.S. troops were pulled from Afghanistan just weeks ago, marking the end of a 20-year war.
"It’s never over," said DJ Reyes, retired U.S. Army Colonel.
Reyes served in the army for 30 years and did multiple tours overseas.
He says as long as Americans are still stranded in Afghanistan, it’s not over.
"Being in the longest war for our nation, we have experienced as a military force, many of the casualties of war," said Reyes.
Reyes says there are more physical and mental injuries in soldiers and veterans now than ever before. But he says one positive takeaway is that there are more programs to help veterans and they continue to grow.
"There’s a procedural change based on the wellness and care of our veterans and that’s something I’m deeply involved in," said Reyes.
And when it comes to a 20-year war that started with an attack of the U.S., Tyson says he's proud to have served.
"Don’t regret none of it. I definitely think I did my part," said Tyson.