Paralympic gold medalist blinded during tour of duty in Afghanistan questions US war on terror


Paralympic gold medalist blinded during tour of duty in Afghanistan questions US war on terror and says ‘mistakes of the last 20 years’ don’t justify staying

  • Brad Snyder, a gold medal-winning US Paralympian who was blinded while serving with the Navy in Afghanistan, is questioning the ‘war on terror’ 
  • Speaking with CNN, the 37-year-old Snyder said the thought of the Taliban retaking power in the country keeps him ‘awake at night’
  • However, Snyder doesn’t think the US should continue to stay in Afghanistan 
  • Snyder became the first American man to win an Olympic or Paralympic triathlon gold, finishing alongside sighted guide Greg Billington in 1:01:16 
  • He also won Paralympic golds as a swimmer in London (2012) and Rio (2016) 
  • Snyder, who served in the Navy’s elite bomb disposal squad, was blinded in Afghanistan in 2011 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device 


Brad Snyder, a gold medal-winning US Paralympian who was blinded while serving with the Navy in Afghanistan, is questioning America’s decades-long ‘war on terror,’ while applauding the withdrawal from the country.

‘It plagues me, it keeps me awake at night and I think about it a lot, especially being a person whose life was fundamentally changed by going to Afghanistan,’ Snyder told CNN of the war on terror following his gold medal Paratriathlon victory in Tokyo on Saturday.  

Snyder, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, said there is a ‘prevailing sadness’ over the Taliban‘s return to power, but acknowledged that the US could not stay in the country ‘forever.’

Brad Snyder, from United States, and his guide Greg Billington, celebrate after wining the Men’s Triathlon PTV1 at the Odaiba Marine Park at the 2020 Paralympics in Toky0

Brad Snyder and guide Greg Billington of Team United States exit the swim stage during the men's PTVI Triathlon on day 4 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Odaiba Marine Park

Brad Snyder and guide Greg Billington of Team United States exit the swim stage during the men’s PTVI Triathlon on day 4 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Odaiba Marine Park 

Snyder was permanently blinded in Afghanistan in 2011 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). He old CNN that he considers himself lucky to be alive. 'Thankfully, I was alone when I got hurt, so it only affected me and, thankfully, it detonated a short distance in front of me ... which largely saved my life and saved my limbs,' he said

Snyder was permanently blinded in Afghanistan in 2011 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). He old CNN that he considers himself lucky to be alive. ‘Thankfully, I was alone when I got hurt, so it only affected me and, thankfully, it detonated a short distance in front of me … which largely saved my life and saved my limbs,’ he said

Snyder (left) became the first American man to win an individual Olympic or Paralympic triathlon, finishing the course alongside sighted guide Greg Billington in 1:01:16. The 37-year-old Nevada native previously won six gold medals as a swimmer at the 2012 London Games and the 2016 Rio Games

Snyder (left) became the first American man to win an individual Olympic or Paralympic triathlon, finishing the course alongside sighted guide Greg Billington in 1:01:16. The 37-year-old Nevada native previously won six gold medals as a swimmer at the 2012 London Games and the 2016 Rio Games

‘Having been on the ground in Afghanistan, you can very clearly see the negativity associated with Taliban rule — the way women are treated, the way that the villages react to the notion of the Taliban,’ Snyder said. ‘That said, we can’t be there forever, and unless we’re going to fully commit in a way that we haven’t done in the last 20 years, the mistakes of the last 20 years don’t justify future investment in my view.

‘And so I applaud the decisions that have been made to change course and to change our strategy in Afghanistan.

Snyder became the first American man to win an individual Olympic or Paralympic triathlon, finishing the course alongside sighted guide Greg Billington in 1:01:16. The 37-year-old Nevada native previously won six gold medals as a swimmer at the 2012 London Games and the 2016 Rio Games.

Snyder served in the Navy for seven years

Snyder served in the Navy for seven years 

He was permanently blinded in Afghanistan in 2011 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED).

Snyder told CNN that he considers himself lucky to be alive.

‘Thankfully, I was alone when I got hurt, so it only affected me and, thankfully, it detonated a short distance in front of me … which largely saved my life and saved my limbs,’ he said.

The way Snyder sees it, he wasn’t fighting for the Afghan people, but rather for ‘human rights’ and ‘the notion of liberty, the notion of freedom.’

‘And that sacrifice, that fight is still alive, that fight is something we’ll be fighting until long after I’m gone,’ he said.

Snyder is currently studying for a PhD in Public Policy at Princeton, according to CNN, and hopes to return to the US Naval Academy to help prepare cadets for the ‘fights of tomorrow.’

Snyder won gold on Saturday alongside fellow American Paratriathlete Allysa Seely, who was defending her first gold medal. 

Prince Harry helps to light the flame with US Paralympian Lieutenant Brad Snyder (left) as he attends the Opening Ceremony of the Warrior Games during the third day of his visit to the United States on May 11, 2013 in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Prince Harry helps to light the flame with US Paralympian Lieutenant Brad Snyder (left) as he attends the Opening Ceremony of the Warrior Games during the third day of his visit to the United States on May 11, 2013 in Colorado Springs, Colorado

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