We’re Ignoring American Heroes – Warning: Horrendous Tragedy


Published on Oct 19, 2014

Translators who have aided the U.S. Military in Afghanistan and Iraq are in great danger in their home countries, but red tape is making it impossible for many of them to leave. John Oliver interviews Mohammad, one translator who made it out.

The above link is for a piece done by John Oliver.  The basic premise is that in places like Iraq and Afghanistan our soldiers rely heavily on local interpreters.  These local interpreters support our efforts and save countless American lives.

They do so at great personal expense. Aligning with US and Allied forces makes them and their families targets for insurgents.   Oliver tells the stories of several of such interpreters who have had family members killed based on their service. The man he interviews in person tells us that his father was murdered, and his three year old brother was kidnapped.  The interpreter had to pay the insurgents $35,000 to return his brother.

I think it’s clear that anyone with a functioning heart and brain would agree that this situation is unacceptable.  We have an obligation to protect these service members and their families.  The good news is that there is a process in place to offer travel VISAs to Afghans.  But, are you sitting down?  It’s almost impossible to use.  Three such VISAs were issued last year. There are currently thousands of interpreters with applications pending.  Places like The List Project (http://thelistproject.org/) are trying to help, but it is not nearly enough.

Applying for a special immigrant VISA is a 14 step process.  There are a variety of built in hurdles.  For example, Oliver discusses one of the first requirements of securing a letter of recommendation from a former supervisor who was likely a military contractor and would now be very hard to track down.
It gets worse.  The US embassy in Afghanistan is not scheduling any more appointments related to these VISA applications due to the system being overwhelmed.  However, it won’t be a problem for much longer, because the program itself is set to expire at the end of 2014.

Clearly there is a very serious need for security screenings.  The good news is that we have a history of handling such a problem.  After the Vietnam war we resettled 140,000 refugees in 4 months.  We took them to Guam and processed them in safety with relative ease.

There is so much more that we need to be doing to support our returning veterans.  Whether they were US citizens at the time of their service should not have any bearing on how they are served and protected if they choose to come to America.  They sacrificed in an effort to support our Armed forces.  For that they have earned our gratitude and protection in kind.  Watch this clip at the top of this post.  At times it uses humor to discuss this horrible situation.  It’s heartbreaking that it is happening, and tragic that so little is being done to address it.




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