American veterans who served in the War on Terror clearly understood how their Afghani soldiers, interpreters, and support people helped them in the War on Terrorism.
When the U.S. government pulled out of Afghanistan on Aug. 30, 2021, many of my friends shared online memories of those who served in theater, died, or suffered injuries.
As we mark the second anniversary of the Afghani withdrawal this past August, Marine veteran Elizabeth Hartman shared the story of Nicole Gee, a Marine who helped evacuate Afghan women and children.
Gee helped young infants and women board transportation flights to the U.S. and Europe when a suicide bill killed her and other American soldiers.
“She lost her life so others may live, and without a doubt, she died proud,” Hartman, a fellow Legionnaire, shared in a post of what one of her comrades said at Gee’s funeral.
Two years later, these refugees that Gee helped face serious visa issues in the United States. Organizations like the American Legion encourage members and community leaders to support the Afghan Adjustment Act by writing to their Congressional representatives.
As a Legion member, I want to help you understand what the bill means to our Afghani allies.
Congress had extended the Special Immigrant Visas (SIV), allowing the 80,000 allies and their families to remain in the United States through August. The passage of this act aimed to change the “humanitarian parole” that ended this past summer for those 80,000 refugees.
“The new Congress has an opportunity to resolve another quagmire left unfinished by the previous session,” Jim Troiola, the American Legion national commander, wrote in a letter to his members.
“We must do better for our Afghan allies who stood with us against the Taliban,” Troiola added in his letter to Legionnaires. “We must create a pathway to permanent residency in the United States. We must pass legislation to secure their freedom in return for their assistance in helping our troops.”
Our government, both at the executive and legislative levels, must coordinate the legislative process to protect our allies. Veterans who served in that “sandbox” understand this. It’s time for our government leaders to focus on protecting those gallant Afghani allies who marched alongside them, not to mention honoring the legacy of Sergeant Gee.
Please ask your elected officials to think about walking in the shoes of veterans who served in Afghanistan to finalize legislation to provide full immigration benefits for them.
Matt Scherer served in the Air Force for 20 years as a public affairs professional. He co-founded the Military Transition Roundtable, a non-profit that helps veterans with their transition.