"No One Left Behind" tries to rescue Iraqi and Afghan Terps

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"No One Left Behind" tries to rescue Iraqi and Afghan Terps

Saw this on CNN the other day and it's always been something that resonated with me, having had some pretty great interpreters in Afghanistan who risked everything to help us:

In 2008, Matt Zeller was serving in Afghanistan as a captain in the US Army. One day while out on a routine mission, he and his squad were attacked by Taliban insurgents.

Zeller would have been killed, he said, had it not been for his Afghan interpreter, Janis Shinwari.

"He shot and killed two Taliban fighters who were about to kill me," Zeller said.

When Zeller thanked him for saving his life, Shinwari told him, "You are a guest in my country. It is an honor to protect those who are fighting for us."

"That day we became brothers," Zeller said. 

After that, the Taliban placed Shinwari at the top of their hit list. Before Zeller returned home, he promised he would do everything he could to bring Shinwari and his family to safety in the US. It took Zeller more than four years to help them get their Special Immigrant Visas.

The interpreter and the soldier realized thousands like Shinwari remained vulnerable in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2013, they co-founded the nonprofit No One Left Behind to help other interpreters who've put their lives at risk to work with US troops.

You should click on over and watch the video of Matt at CNN in their Heroes segment linked above.  Unfortunately I can't embed that video here, but Matt has been on CNN before discussing it, and it is quite a compelling story:

So far they are having some success according to figures they've released:

  • Provided 161 families with rental assistance;
  • Provided furnishings for 1,209 families in need;
  • Provided 66 car grants to Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders;
  • Helped 943 individuals with employments services;
  • Advised more than 4,000 clients on the SIV process;
  • More than 500 visas issued to clients we’ve assisted;
  • Helped 8,329 individuals and 1,410 families overall.

Like I said, this one hits fairly close to home because of the danger I know most of them were in for helping us.  At least when our deployments were over we could head home and see loved ones and not really worry overly that someone would kill them or take them hostage for what we were doing, but these Terps and others didn't really have that option.

Check out the link above to CNN and if you want more on NOTB hit up their WEBSITE or TWITTER or FACEBOOK.  They are Top 10 in CNN's Hero Program thing, with the winning organization receiving $100k.


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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.