Chandler bond election cruises to apparent victory - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler bond election cruises to apparent victory

November 7th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Chandler bond election cruises to apparent victory
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By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

You probably won’t see Chandler resident Seth Haahr wearing a hat or T-shirt this Veterans Day that shouts he served as a scout in the Army.

“I don’t like putting myself out there as a veteran,” said Haarh, who spent a year in Afghanistan. “I’m not, ‘Hey, look at me, I’m wearing a veteran T-shirt or something like that.’ … That’s not my identity, so I don’t care about that recognition.”

Not wearing anything that identifies him as a veteran helps avoid those moments when people try to show their appreciation.

“I think there is a lot of lip service that goes into it, were people say, ‘oh, thank you for your service,’ but they don’t actually know what that means,” Haahr said.

“That’s one of the reasons why I actually hate it when people say, ‘thank you for your service,’ because most of the time it’s just an empty gesture. But, I’m still thankful for it at the same time.”

Haahr suggested instead of thanking a vet with words, do something.

“If you do genuinely care and are truly appreciative you can say, ‘Hey, I hope you don’t think it’s empty words, but I appreciate your service,’ but what’s more important is actually doing something about that,” he said. “Words carry a lot of weight, but action means more than words.

“So, if it’s volunteering at a veteran homeless shelter or donating to organizations like the military or the Purple Heart, or DAV [Disabled American Veterans], anything like that. That carries more weight than someone saying, ‘thank you for your service.’”

Haahr jokes about how he ended up volunteering.

“I didn’t stand a chance is kind of the running joke with the family,” Haahr said.

Both of his parents served, as did both grandfathers and quite a few uncles and step-brothers.

He said he was still working his high school job and trying to get up for a 6 a.m. English 101 class every morning when he decided to volunteer.

“Do the military, do my part as far as serving the country, get benefits and everything else too to try and set myself up, and give myself a chance to mature before I tried that school thing full time.”

He entered service in 2008 and two years later he was in Afghanistan, hunting for explosive devices near Kandahar.

“I joke with the people that I was there with that it looks like that area between Florence and Coolidge, just a little bit less refined,” he said.

Haahr said they had good engagement with the local population and that led to tips that helped them find improvised explosive devices. Other teams were not as lucky, finding the devices as Haahr calls, “the hard way.”

He said he also engaged the enemy in the mountains.

Haahr said the way the Afghanistan war ended was not a surprise to those who served there.

“Mad, disappointed, hurt, all those adjectives,” Haahr said of his feelings at how the war ended.

“The senior leadership might have gotten that intel that, ‘Hey, the Afghan National Army will be able to sustain, but anyone who spent 10 minutes on the ground could have told you otherwise. It ultimately needed to happen, but the manner in which it happened was the disappointment.”

Haahr doesn’t blame one political party or president. He said all of them could have done better.

Since leaving service Haahr was busy trying to help one of his Afghan translators flee the country before the Taliban could get to him.

Since he left service Haahr dedicated himself to helping one of his interpreters and his family come to the U.S.

“They bled, cared more about our mission, than any of the politicians there,” he said.

The interpreter, his wife and daughter boarded a flight last month and made it to the U.S.

“He’s the lucky one and he still had a really bad time of it,” Haahr said. “And he’s still just grateful for everything. I talk to him all the time.”

Once he left the Army, Haahr enrolled at Arizona State, but he saw a need to help other veterans like him. He started a club to help veterans returning from Afghanistan transition to college life.

He earned his degree in applied biological sciences. He now works for USAA.

While he probably won’t be seen wearing a veterans cap or T-shirt, there is one thing that gives away his service.

“That’s the only reason why I have a veterans’ plate on my truck, because if you’re speeding …” he said.

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