Kadie Ann Williams was in the library studying late when she heard Osama bin Laden had been killed. When she arrived home, she was too afraid to sleep.
Williams, microbiology major, was deployed to the Persian Gulf for a total of 15 months during her service in the Navy.
“I kept thinking, ‘It’s just going to get worse,’” she said of her reaction upon hearing of bin Laden’s death.
For student veterans, bin Laden’s death may have been symbolic of the end of suffering for many, but it will not change the war.
Bin Laden was killed Sunday after a U.S. raid on a complex where he was hiding in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
“It’s like the ‘Wizard of Oz’ when Dorothy dropped the house,’” said Tara Smith, who is pursuing her master’s in creative writing. “Everyone’s celebrating, but they forget that there’s another villain out there.”
Smith, who was deployed to Iraq for a year, joined the Army shortly after the 9/11 attacks under the impression that she was going to help the country defeat terrorism.
“I was naïve when I joined, even though I was 21,” she said. “I thought it was as simple as, ‘we got attacked, now we’re going to get the bad guys,’ but it’s not that simple. It was never that simple.”
Though student veterans fear the worsening of the war, assistant professor of international relations Mahmood Monshipuri said this could be a step in the right direction for America’s War on Terror.
“The only way you can counteract terrorism is when you take the disgruntled people and give them hope,” Monshipuri said.
Miguel Vargas, a kinesiology major, believes the success of the mission was significant to the American people because of what bin Laden represented, but repercussions could ensue because of what he symbolized to al-Qaeda.
“There’s no real central man,” Vargas said. “What we need to worry about is the second guy in line because no one’s gonna say: ‘He’s dead, let’s all stop doing bad stuff. We’re not just fighting people, we’re fighting an ideology.”
Vargas, who is in the Army reserves and was deployed to Iraq for 15 months, was on duty at a military base when he heard of bin Laden’s death.
“I had no idea what was going on,” he said. “All I knew was that our threat level went up and that we had to check around the base.”
Despite the doubts, bin Laden’s death is still an undeniable victory for the U.S., according to international relations professor David Fischer.
“The U.S. demonstrated that it is able to carry out a superb military operation,” he said. “It restores America’s image of itself.”
Shea Caspersen, international relations major and president of Our Veterans Club at SF State, said that he and other members of the club believe that the war will grow, but there is still a reason to rejoice.
“It’s definitely a blood feud,” he said. “If anything, it’s at least a symbolic victory. The mission has changed a lot, but the initial message is still there. His death symbolizes some sort of justice for an act that killed 3,000 Americans, so there’s still some sort of cause for celebration.”
Many veterans would like to see troops in the Middle East return home, as they do not see how the war could be resolved at this point.
“I don’t think this is going to end,” said Williams. “I’m just waiting for what’s going to happen next because it is going to get 10 times bigger than it is now.”