- Members of the US Armed Forces took to social media to protest the treatment of their Afghan allies.
- They made impassioned posts on Twitter about how their interpreters and friends are still stuck in Afghanistan.
- Two military members are also fundraising to help the interpreters they worked with.
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Members of the US Armed Forces are taking to social media to protest that the US is not doing more to help their Afghan interpreters and allies get out of Afghanistan.
The members of the military posted on Twitter screenshots of conversations they had with interpreters who served with them on the frontlines of the war in Afghanistan – men who now find themselves stuck in the country and who are potentially in danger because of their association with the US military.
The US has a program for Afghan refugees called the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV). These visas are given to those who have worked for the US military and does include interpreters and translators whose lives could be in immediate danger following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.
But the system is not without its issues. US-based non-profit organization No One Left Behind said on its website that there was a “3.5 year wait time” for an SIV, which requires a 14-step process for approval.
According to the BBC, about 200 Afghan interpreters and their families arrived in the US on July 30. But there are many more waiting their turn. There were around 20,000 applications sent in for the special visa program as of the end of July, according to The New York Times.
Now others, fresh out of options, are simply asking for prayers to be said for the Afghan interpreters they worked with because there are indications that the Taliban already know who they and their families are.
-Matt (@MattAgnew3) August 16, 2021
Richard Ojeda, a US Army veteran and retired West Virginia state senator, posted a statement on Twitter calling out the US for not doing enough for the interpreters and their families.
“There is nothing that hurts worse than watching your area of responsibility fall to the Taliban and you still have interpreters and their families there,” Ojeda wrote in a tweet posted on August 15. “How the F— does our country deny the wife and baby of a man who stood by my side in combat a Visa to come to America.”
Military veteran Aaron Marquez, who was a 2014 candidate for the Arizona state senate, also tweeted about the family of the interpreter who served with him in Afghanistan.
-Aaron J. Marquez (@Aaron4Arizona) August 16, 2021
A GoFundMe for allies stuck behind enemy lines
Henry Hughes, an award-winning filmmaker, and lawyer David Roller, both served in the 173 Airborne Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan.
They’ve started a fundraiser on GoFundMe in an attempt to help the interpreters who served for two years with them “patrolling the Hindu Kush” and “fighting with the Taliban.”
“These two men have families. Each has a wife. Both have five children. That’s fourteen people. Because they worked with the US Army they meet the criteria to receive a visa, but without the requisite paper trail required by an out of touch and harder to reach bureaucracy their application remains in limbo,” they wrote.
The pair have raised more than $113,000 so far. The money will go toward “plane tickets to evacuate fourteen people” along with “food and shelter until we can get their visas approved.”
“They can’t simply wait for refugee status,” they wrote. “Not with targets painted on their backs.”