Topic

interpreters

12 petitions

Started 2 months ago

Petition to U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, President of the United States

Afghan and Iraqi Translators Saved American Lives. Make them "Honorary Veterans."

While serving in the US Army in 2008, my Afghan interpreter Janis Shinwari saved my life. During an intense firefight, Janis killed two Taliban fighters that had snuck up behind me. Without Janis, they would have killed me. In Iraq and Afghanistan, translators serve alongside the US military and are essential to keeping us safe and helping us do our mission. And they do so at the risk of being targeted by the Taliban, including their families. Janis is not the exception. There are many translators who have saved American lives on the battlefield. Like Fred, who saved 25 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard.Supporters had to crowdfund the money to fly him and his family to the US before the Taliban killed him. After serving, Steeler's Offensive Tackle and Army Ranger Alejandro Villaneuva worked hard to get his Afghan translator here. After serving alongside our military, many translators received SIV’s or Special Immigrant Visas, so they could relocated to the United States. Unfortunately, they are not considered veterans. We are asking Congress to honor its promise to our wartime allies. We want them to be treated as the heroes they are when they finally come here after years of screening by the State Department, Defense Department, and Department of Homeland Security. All we are asking is for Congress to name them "Honorary Veterans" so that they can check the veteran's preference box on job applications and 56,000 veteran focused charities to include them in their missions. Many are standing by. We are not asking for VA benefits. This is an innovative idea that comes at no cost to the taxpayer and requires no new regulations.  Best of all, we have bipartisan support!  Yes, people in D.C. can agree on the same thing. This is a simple wording issue. These charities can't help Special Immigrant Visa recipients because technically they are "non-veterans."  Ask me if I think my translator is a veteran.  Ask the guys from the Pennsylvania National Guard who spent their own money to fly their translator here if he is a veteran.  Ask Alejandro.   Since at least World War 2, the United States has a very checkered history of honoring our promises to our wartime allies. Yes, big alliances like NATO matter, but it is the friendships and trust at the individual level that is our greatest diplomatic tool. The world knows that we didn't fully take care of the Filipino soldiers that helped us in World War 2, the Koreans during the Korean War, the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War, and now the brave men and women from Afghanistan and Iraq who risked everything to stand shoulder to shoulder with us. With your help, we can change this. We need your voice to get this to the Senate floor. It's time the American people demand our representatives to stand shoulder to shoulder with those that saved American lives. I have a family today because of my translator.

No One Left Behind
32,340 supporters
Update posted 6 months ago

Petition to Department of Defense, Donald Trump, Tammy Duckworth, Bradley Schneider, Randy Hultgren, Dick Durbin

bring Rambo Three home from war

I served in OEF-Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009 with the 33rd Brigade Combat Team. During that time, I had several interpreters assist my unit in eradicating the Taliban and setting up training for the Afghan National Army and Police. In my 2012 war memoir, "I am Danger; I am Prisoner," I talk about my rich relationship with the interpreters, particularly with a Terp named “Rambo Three,” codenamed to protect his identity. Rambo Three was my best friend; I was closer to him than I was to any of the U.S. soldiers I was serving with. Since I've left Afghanistan, my interpreters were given a bounty on their head, causing them to flee their own nation. All but one of my interpreters successfully fled the country – “Rambo Three” remains. Shedding the codename, Behruz is still stuck in Kabul. He has applied for a Special Immigration Visa (SIV COM NVCSIV2016179015), but is trapped in a long line of SIV applicants as the Taliban continues to track down former interpreters. After serving NATO forces for just south of 5 years, Behruz is as hot a target as any for his service. Behruz is from Farah province, but he cannot even return home due to the threat level in that province. As such, Behruz is living in Kabul, essentially a foreigner in his own country. It’s time to bring Behruz home. The United States Army instilled in me the ethos of never leaving a battle buddy behind, and up to this point, we’ve failed Behruz. I recognize there’s a long list of SIV applicants, but I’m asking that this one not fall through the cracks. Let’s get this one right. Please.

Danger Geist
178 supporters
Update posted 9 months ago

Petition to John Kerry, John Kerry (United States Secretary of State), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Cory Gardner, Michael Bennet, Tim Kaine, Mark Warner, Gerry Connolly, Diana DeGette, Bob Goodlatte, Randy Forbes, Jeanne Shaheen, John McCain

Save Rock, an Afghan Interpreter who served with US Special Forces

“I wasn’t scared of dying, I was only scared of being captured alive.” “Rock” is an Afghan interpreter who worked for US Special Forces from 2006 to 2012 in some of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan. Growing up, he had no love for the Taliban. Rock knew he wanted to fight the Taliban, and help the United States’ efforts to rebuild Afghanistan. Rock’s English language and interpretation skills enabled him to proudly fight alongside some of America’s most elite men and women while wearing an American uniform. Rock is just one of many Afghan interpreters who have been abandoned by the US government despite its promises to protect the interpreters who served with US forces. Rock has countless stories of his own heroic deeds, yet he tells each story with humility – seemingly surprised that anyone would be interested in his experiences. He describes saving the life of Sergeant First Class Charles Martland in a firefight, on a joint operation by the Afghan National Army (ANA) and American Special Forces. They knew that they would need to dismount from their vehicles at a certain location due to the high risk of IEDs. As they went into this high risk area, they saw that Taliban had written a warning on a wall, “If you want to die, come this way.” As the convoy continued, the road narrowed so much that not even a small SUV could turn around. The Taliban opened fire. As the vehicles stopped and both sides began to fire, the ANA and Special Forces realized that the Taliban had snipers. Rock says that the bullets “began to fall like rain, and this was the first time in my life that I felt my hair stand on end.” As the incoming fire intensified, Rock spotted a narrow ditch along the side of the road that could provide some cover. Rock and Martland reached the ditch just as a an RPG exploded; Rock pushed Martland into the ditch and covered him with his own body. “I could have died, but thank God, the only thing that happened to me is that I became dizzy,” Rock said. The Taliban fighters continued shooting RPGs and mortars. Then, about 5 meters behind Rock, there was an enormous explosion. Rock looked back and saw that the second vehicle, an ANA Humvee, had hit an IED. Half of a human body fell in front of him – the body of the Humvee driver. The team sergeant called to Rock to come beside him. Running low on ammo, Rock asked if he could go into the vehicle to reload, but the sergeant told him to stay dismounted. Not long after that moment, that vehicle exploded. Rock is thankful that he narrowly managed to survive that day. Rock has risked his life, surviving firefights and helicopter crashes. (Rock says that the helicopter crashes were “not very serious.”) Because of his service, the Taliban threatened to send a suicide bomber to Rock’s home. Unlike most Afghans, Rock has two tattoos. The Taliban was so determined to find him that they used to stop people close to his age and check their bodies for Rock’s tattoos. Rock’s sacrifices and the threats that he has endured are not limited to missions. While returning home from a remote province late at night with his mother, wife, and younger sister, Rock heard a voice screaming that he was an infidel. He was then stabbed by a member of the Taliban and carries a scar about six inches long across his torso, a permanent reminder of the attack and the following surgery that saved his life. At the time, he did not report the attack to his employers out of fear that he would lose his job and no longer be able to continue in his work against the Taliban. Aside from the physical threats and the dangers of war, Rock experienced struggles that are familiar to any American who has deployed. Rock’s father died of cancer while he was out on a mission – but Rock said that the last thing his father ever told him was that he was proud of him for being his “soldier-son.” Rock took these words to heart. When his mother called him and asked him to come home to be with his father in his final moments, Rock told her, “No, my friends here need me. They are not safe without me here. I can’t abandon my mission.” Rock’s father passed away that same day. “When my father died, I couldn’t cry, not even a single drop or tear, because all of the tears I had in my eyes I had already spent them for my American brothers and Afghan friends who had been killed fighting. We lost so many people.” Rock was laid off from his position in 2012 due to the drawdown of combat forces in Afghanistan. At the moment, with US forces increasing their numbers in some areas of Afghanistan, Rock is searching for another combat interpreter position. Though he worries about what will happen to his wife and young daughter if he resumes fighting, Rock is ready to sign up again and face the risks again. However, the No One Left Behind team hopes that Rock won’t be in Afghanistan to have that opportunity. Rock applied for a Special Immigrant Visa almost seven years ago; his case creation date with USCIS is August 12, 2009. He has no information on how long it will take for the embassy to finish processing his application. In the meantime, Rock is under constant threat for his service. When asked about his goals in the USA, Rock says that he wants to formally enlist in the Army, and potentially join the ranks of United States Special Forces. Why is Rock still waiting? Let’s ensure that Rock and his family are brought to safety by August 2016 – 7 years after he applied for his visa. Sincerely, Mica Varga, Director of Resettlement OperationsNo One Left Behindwww.nooneleft.org

Mica Varga
1,748 supporters
This petition won 8 months ago

Petition to Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley

Exempt Wartime Interpreters from President Trump's Executive Order Banning Immigration

As an U.S. Army Captain serving in Afghanistan, I was almost killed by Taliban fighters. My Afghan translator, Janis, saved my life. We made a promise to translators like Janis, who served alongside our troops, to help them immigrate to the United States.President Trump’s ban on all immigration of refugees breaks that promise to the thousands of Afghan and Iraqi wartime allies. The president's Executive Order shuts the door on thousands of foreign interpreters, our wartime allies, who served alongside our military since 2001. Enacting a four-month ban on ALL immigration of refugees and an outright ban on the immigration of Iraqis condemns thousands of our Iraqi wartime allies to languish and fend for themselves against the very enemies we asked them to help us fight.The blanket ban on immigration from Iraq and the four month moratorium on immigration from Afghanistan prevents our allies from reaching safety here in America and leaves countless thousands to be hunted for their service to the United States. If we commit to this, we will permanently harm our national security. Our credibility will be forever neutered if not eroded. Why would any potential ally ever trust America to keep its word again? It pains me to think how many US soldiers will now die in future wars because we couldn't recruit the local support that is often the difference between life and death. Moreover, this ban imposes a lifetime moral injury on our Iraq war veterans. Vietnam Veterans speak often of their half-century injury at having abandoned so many of our Vietnamese allies. Please ask President Trump to keep our promise to America’s veterans and allow for the Special Immigration Visa program to continue uninterrupted. Sincerely, Matt Zeller, Co-FounderNo One Left Behind  

No One Left Behind
40,919 supporters