Abdul Amiry, thank you
The U.S. military called on Afghans for help, and they answered. Now it’s time for us to step up and do the same as people resettle in the United States.
Columnist Barbara Jordan (standing, third from left) with U.S., French, Czech, and Afghan forces. (Photo courtesy of Barbara Jordan)
I have to say to you my brother, Abdul Amiry — and to all of the Afghans who are trying to find a new life in Las Cruces, N.M. — thank you. As a combat veteran who served there, I want to take the time to thank you for your service. I want to take the time to let you know that I see you, I stand with you now as you stood with us, and I wholeheartedly agree: you do deserve so much more.
We asked our Afghan brothers and sisters in arms to help us for over 20 years while the U.S. took over so much land. We built flight lines, brought in military vehicles and fighter planes, and brought more than 775,000 U.S. troops into your country. All of the scarifies made by so many came to a screeching halt as the Taliban regained control over just a few weeks last year.
We suffered together and fought together, and now, not only has your life and the lives of your family members been turned upside down, we bring you here and give you the bare minimum to survive.
You’ve been relocated to Las Cruces and essentially told, “Here, take this $1,225, and make it on your own.”
This is not the answer. We owe you nothing less than what our United States veterans receive. We owe you monthly compensation, health care, housing and assistance in creating a new life here in New Mexico.
No refuge: Afghans describe challenges in building new life in New Mexico
I see you and all of my Afghan brothers and sisters as a part of the U.S. The sacrifices you have made are not to be taken lightly and are not decreased in value simply because you are from Afghanistan. The sacrifices for your country, my country (now your host country) are great, far-reaching and deserve to be recognized.
I am not sure if local, state and federal governments understand what you went through, but I am here to tell you that I do. I am calling on these agencies and nonprofit organizations to know you are helping humans who relocated from Afghanistan, people who chose to serve and help Americans in a war. Together, we were trying to make life better for so many. I say to our elected officials: You must view these humans as no less than you would view me, a United States Air Force veteran. We must provide assistance to the many people who have relocated here in New Mexico and to other states.
When I was in Afghanistan, we had an interpreter who translated Pashto for us. Afghan locals worked in our dining facilities and provided many other services I am not at liberty to talk about. I can say that without the assistance, there was no way we would have been successful as we went into the field, and I often question whether I would have made it home.
We did not ask for the heartache that comes after the missions — or the mental health issues, the loss of body parts, the death. Nor did our Afghan brothers and sisters who helped us and sacrificed so much.
We called on these souls for help, and they answered our call. It is now time for us to step up and do the same. It is no less than the minimum of what they deserve.
The time to do what is right is right now.
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