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Biden tries to shake hand of Marine who lost arm during Afghan withdrawal; Marine says he told Biden ‘I don’t have an arm’

Marine Sergeant Tyler Vargas-Andrews (US Congress)
August 09, 2023

In an emotional retelling of his recovery journey, Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews, a Marine injured during the disastrous U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan in 2021, shared an awkward encounter with President Joe Biden at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Vargas-Andrews lost both an arm and a leg in a suicide bombing at Kabul’s Abbey Gate, a tragic event that shocked the nation. The Marine recently opened up about his rehabilitation and his experience with the president during an appearance on “The Shawn Ryan Show.”

The heroic Marine explained how, in the midst of his recovery and while still under the influence of medication, he was presented with the opportunity to meet the president. Eager to not be incoherent for the meeting, Vargas-Andrews said, “I told them, I was like, hold all of my opioids, like hold all of my narcotics and stuff. Like I want to be coherent when I meet him.”

Anticipating a meeting in an hour, the sergeant braved the pain, abstaining from his meds, only to endure an agonizing four-hour wait.

“Three hours go by, and it’s like four hours at this point. My mom’s furious,” Vargas-Andrews said. “She’s like, ‘What the f-ck? Where is this guy?’”

Eventually, the arrival of Secret Service agents indicated the president’s imminent entry. However, the lingering effects of sedation and pain left Vargas-Andrews confused about the identity of the nation’s leader.

“I had no idea who the president was. I didn’t think it was Trump. I didn’t think it was Biden. My brain couldn’t make the connection,” the injured Marine said.

Vargas-Andrews recalled a moment of unease when Biden approached him for a handshake. With his right arm missing and his left immobilized, the Marine found the gesture peculiar.

“Right away, I remember him coming up to me trying to shake my hand, shake my right hand, and I look at him, and I’m like, ‘I don’t have an arm,'” he said.

READ MORE: White House’s Afghanistan planning lacked ‘urgency,’ report finds

The Marine’s mother, distressed by the circumstances, insisted the government provide lifetime support for her son in the wake of the attack. The mother’s statements led to a brief and bewildering exchange between Vargas-Andrews and the president.

“She said that, and I’m sitting there, and he comes over to me, he leans over to me … and he’s like, ‘What do you want?’” Vargas-Andrews said.

Vargas-Andrews also highlighted his mother’s later attempts to work with Jill Biden, aiming to champion legislation to financially support caretakers. Despite initial optimism, the family felt left without help.

Vargas-Andrews claimed the administration seemed to feign assistance without truly helping.

This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.