Afghanistan in Crisis: An Open Letter
Two weeks before the U.S. was set to complete withdrawal of troops, Afghanistan has fallen to the Taliban in a matter of days. The complex emotions we all feel watching and reading the news of the rapidly deteriorating situation are a mix of anger, sorrow, disbelief, and shock.
We grieve, for our friends who did not come home, for those who came home with physical or mental scars, and for those brave Afghans who risked their lives to support our troops. We remember the costs and sacrifices this almost 20-year conflict has required of our Service members, veterans, and their families. But we must not forget those same costs and sacrifices of the Afghan people.
The Afghan people — many who greeted American service members with peace, who fought alongside so many of us, who lived in deep hiding for fear of execution by the Taliban, who risked their lives and the lives of their families, who are desperately trying to flee the country in fear of the violent retribution that has been happening in small doses, until now — deserve better from us.
Earlier this year, VFRL worked alongside Veterans for American Ideals to raise awareness around the risks facing Afghan interpreters and others who worked in service with the U.S. government, and the broken Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program that too often is backlogged or fails to help these immigrants actually resettle in the United States.2 Given the rapidly evolving situation, we are beyond the time for talk and must call for ACTION.
As Afghanistan falls to the Taliban, VFRL believes that in order to preserve the principles and ideas of American Democracy both at home and abroad, our elected leaders in Congress and the White House must work together to ensure the immediate safety of Afghan refugees, so that translators, journalists, women entrepreneurs, students, and others can seek refuge here.
Add your name to join us in calling on the U.S. government to lift all red tape for Afghan refugees immediately.
Join the conversation and tell us what you are thinking and feeling at this moment using #salamforafghanistan.
America must have an engaged, active presence in the world and remain a global leader — even as we withdraw our troops from Afghanistan. We are stronger abroad when united at home. Just as we once answered our nation’s call to battle, we now need to shift our fire to building America into the nation we aspire to be in our founding documents, and that includes keeping our promise to those who served alongside us and providing refuge for those fleeing violence and threats of death.
We owe it to our Afghan allies to show them that the faith they had in the United States was not misplaced, and if they cannot realize a peaceful and just future in their country, we will enable them to do so in ours.
Veterans for Responsible Leadership