Scores of Veterans, Service Members Write to Congress Over Afghanistan

Scores of veterans and military members are pleading with the Biden presidency and Congress to assist Afghans left-back at the end of hostilities.

The nonpartisan all-volunteer organization AfghanEvac coordinated the letter. The letter was addressed to President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Pulling Out Stranded Personnel

According to NBC, the letter states the pullout of American forces from Afghanistan has compelled an unparalleled response by a coalition of veterans and intense duty military; it’s also touched frontline noncombatants, non-profit, private industry, scholarly, and other volunteer groups.

These groups are working hand-in-hand with willing participants within the State Department and Department of Defense to aid in the removal and relocation of the people mentioned above.

They claim their attempts to assist are unsustainable, necessitating government involvement. The letter goes on to say the sheer magnitude and complexity of the situation makes their job unworkable, without more institutional backing from the US government.

The letter describes how many of these veterans, military officials, and concerned civilians heard urgent appeals from Afghans who were left behind in Afghanistan when the US withdrew at the end of August. 

According to the letter, most of their coalition members were called to act under comparable and heart-wrenching situations. These include an unforeseen message from the former Afghan translator or driver who stayed behind.

It also involves a call for assistance from the allied forces who’ve become family after their relocation in the US and a plea for help from the war hero who signed up to work side-by-side with US soldiers.

According to the letter, the veterans and helpers were left with the same question: “Could this be what became of my service?”

Adjustment Initiatives and Resettlement Programs

The letter makes several requests of the Biden presidency, Congress, the State Department, Homeland Defense, and the Defense Department.

The letter requests the government establish a task force authorization by February to draft and execute a multi-year plan for assisting Afghan allies who have been rescued or who choose to leave.

Veterans want the Department of State to allow virtual visa hearings and medical exemptions; they also want the Defense Department to keep “lily [pads],” or intermediate staging posts, overseas.

In addition, the letter says the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Human Services should collaborate to establish mental health services for relocated Afghans, American volunteer groups, and civil employees involved in the withdrawal.

The alliance urged Congress to enact the Afghan Adaptation Act and guarantee the National Defense Spending Act includes funding for evacuee relief.

The letter closes by stating America promised these individuals, families, service members, and veterans their sacrifice would be recognized.