AfghanEvac’s work has been instrumental in helping our Afghan allies rebuild their lives in the U.S. It’s past time for Congress to do their part and pass Congressman Peters’ Afghan Adjustment Act to provide ongoing support and stability to those who fought alongside us.
Read more about it in this January 3rd piece from NBC San Diego, posted below:
San Diego veteran’s coalition helps resettle thousands of Afghans
By Joey Safchik
January 3, 2024
In 2021, Navy veteran Shawn VanDiver picked up a desperate phone call from a friend in Afghanistan.
“He said, ‘Brother, I’m stuck on this mountain in Urgun, eight hours outside of Kabul. The Taliban have surrounded. We’re running out of ammunition. I think I’m going to die. Will you help get my family back to San Diego?'” recalled VanDiver.
VanDiver got to work. He helped his friend, nicknamed Lucky, get out of Afghanistan and, eventually, to the United States.
“Because of him, we are alive and we are in a safe position and [he] helped and saved my family and my life,” said Lucky.
That single success story has morphed into a global promise-keeping mission. VanDiver served in the Middle East, though not in Afghanistan. Yet, this mission felt personal.
“We went into their country and we told them, ‘Believe in the idea of democracy and we’ll work out for you. And if you work with us, you’ll have a shot at the American dream.’ We don’t like to be made into liars,” said VanDiver.
The truth of the matter, VanDiver quickly learned, was that getting Afghan allies out of the Taliban’s territory was an overwhelming undertaking. However, that did not deter him from founding #AfghanEvac, which grew into a coalition of more than 250 global organizations dedicated to resettling Afghans who aided U.S. troops. They have helped bring 125,000 Afghans to American shores, including Lucky.
“This land is land of opportunity, you know? And now we are safe. I wake up in the morning and I feel like I’m in paradise,” said Lucky.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked #AfghanEvac for their partnership in a video over the holidays. The National Security Council said in a statement to NBC 7, “We are grateful for the work of AfghanEvac and other coalition partners who remain relentless advocates for our Afghan allies. Just as the Afghan people contributed to our mission in Afghanistan for twenty years, our Afghan allies are now making vast contributions across our nation. The Biden Administration has an enduring commitment to our Afghan allies in the United States and overseas and we will continue our mission to welcome Afghan newcomers to the United States.”
VanDiver calls on Congress, meanwhile, to step up by passing San Diego Congressman Scott Peters’ Afghan Adjustment Act.
“We’ve done adjustment acts like this. And for other wars like Vietnam, it just makes sense. And we’re not going to be really considered to be a strong ally or a good friend,” said Rep. Peters, D-CA. “I just saw that it was important, not just to the Afghans, but to the vets who came home and want to protect their brothers in arms.”
VanDiver wants to see the end of America’s longest war serve as the beginning of fruitful new lives for Afghan allies.
“This population served alongside our men and women in uniform and out of uniform, our frontline civilians who have protected our country and fought and shed blood. These folks shed blood with us,” said VanDiver.
As for Lucky, whose fateful phone call served as the catalyst for the #AfghanEvac endeavor, he’s working in the U.S. and vows to give back to the country that kept its promise to protect him. As of December, he has some news to share:
“I’m a proud American now, I’m a U.S. citizen,” said Lucky.