Join me in supporting a critical visa program to save the lives of interpreters in Afghanistan who have helped US troops like me.
In 2008, I was serving as an Embedded Combat Adviser in Afghanistan when my interpreter, Janis Shinwari, and I were caught in the middle of a firefight. He took swift action when a combatant shot at me and saved my life. But beyond that specific incident, Janis served a critical role for me and all of the other troops serving in Afghanistan. Thousands of Afghan nationals like Janis have served as interpreters to assist US troops in communicating in real time and providing a cultural link between the troops and Afghan nationals.
But like Janis, many of these interpreters find their lives at risk for their work with US troops. Janis was placed on a Taliban kill list and had to go into hiding with his family. Thankfully, legislation passed in 2009 (the Afghan Allies Protection Act) created a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program to help these interpreters escape to safety in the US. Janis and I learned the hard way that the program had a number of flaws. It took years -- and a Change.org petition -- to help Janis finally secure his visa.
Thankfully, Janis and his family have resettled in the US. Since then, we've started an organization to help resettle Afghan and Iraqi translators called No One Left Behind and since January we've helped resettle 10 Afghan families all over the US with MANY more to come.
With the visa program set to expire, this crucial program that saves the lives of dedicated interpreters who gave up so much in service of our troops could close. Senators McCain and Shaheen and Representatives Blumenauer and Kinzinger have introduced a new bill -- the Afghan Allies Protection Extension Act -- that will not only extend this visa program but also strengthen it to make it an even better program.
Please join me in asking your member of Congress to support this bipartisan legislation to ensure that no one who helps US troops gets left behind.