Local US veterans who served in Afghanistan are working to get at-risk Afghans to safety

U.S. veterans in the D.C. area who run a nonprofit have shifted their efforts to helping at-risk Afghans get to safety after the Taliban took over Kabul.

“We shifted to supporting the larger international effort to remain in contact with all at-risk Afghans who are attempting to flee Afghanistan to safety,” said Mariah Smith, of Winchester, Virginia, who serves on the board of directors for No One Left Behind.

The organization has been purchasing commercial tickets for Afghans who had their special immigrant visas to fly to the U.S. But after the Taliban moved into Kabul, they changed their focus.

“We’re positioned to support evacuation efforts out of Kabul,” Smith said.

Afghan and Iraqi interpreters are promised that if they serve the U.S. military for two years, they can get visas along with their families to come to the U.S.

“Taking action and saving as many Afghans as we can, is the honorable way forward,” Smith said.

John Dolan, of Maryland, is also on the board of directors and is a former Infantry and Special Operations Officer with three deployments to Afghanistan and one to Iraq.

He said timing is crucial.

“The word urgent doesn’t begin to approach the critical window of time that we are currently operating in. There are no second chances, and we cannot turn back time,” Dolan said. “Now it is our time to deliver on our promise and fulfill our moral obligation.”

Doug Livermore, of Lorton, Virginia, who is also on the board of directors and served in both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq said he is proud of the work that the U.S. did in both countries, but now, everyone needs to stand up and help.

“A lot of veterans, like many of us, are doing to assuage some of that frustration that we’re feeling is redoubling our efforts such as that which No One Left Behind has undertaken to save as many Afghans as possible.”

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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