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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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February 26th, 2014
06:15 PM ET

Military veteran weighs in on the 'zero option' in Afghanistan

(CNN) – The possible consequences of a complete U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan are theoretical at the moment, but they are not theoretical for those Americans who served in Iraq, especially those Marines who fought in Fallujah and Ramadi – Iraqi towns where much American blood and treasure was spent, and which extremists recaptured in recent months

Captain Perfecto Sanchez from Queens, New York, served two tours in Iraq, and fought in the 2006 battle for Ramadi, which TIME magazine then called "the most dangerous place" in Iraq. More than 80 U.S. service members were killed

"It was a very important time in the Iraqi War. It was a very dangerous city," Sanchez told CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

Sanchez is one of the veterans whose war stories are told in the new show "Against The Odds," which debuts Monday night on the American Heroes Channel, formerly known as the Military Channel.

"As I'm coming form the East, I hit an IED. And it was a complex attack. As soon as the dismounts came out, we started taking small arms fire. My radio was disabled. My gunner and my driver both had concussions. I got out of the vehicle, and now I'm on the ground evacuating the casualties, and trying to take command and control of what was now a fire fight. And Sergeant Lanz was killed," Sanchez says in "Against The Odds."

Army Staff Sgt. Jose A. Lanzarin of Lubbock, Texas was just 28 years old when he paid the ultimate price, leaving behind a wife and grieving family.

Six men in Sanchez's company would fall in the battle, two from his own platoon.

For Sanchez, the ability of the Iraqi government to fight extremists in Ramadi today is what he and his Army brothers fought for.

"We fought to give the Iraqi government, the Iraqi people the freedom to be who they want to be. So now their future is in their hands. And to me, that is, I think, the reality of life. There's nothing that can take away from the service that, you know, my platoon did, or any servicemen did back in 2006," said Sanchez.

Many worry that Afghanistan will face some of the same challenges that Iraq faced after the U.S. left.

"The truth is that they will. I mean Afghanistan, they will have to figure out what type of country they want to be," said Sanchez.

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