- US veterans of the war in Afghanistan are receiving lots of calls and text messages from former Afghan partners.
- The Afghans are begging for help getting themselves and their families out of Afghanistan.
- The Biden administration has faced a backlash for the chaotic evacuation amid the Taliban takeover.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
The fall of Afghanistan to Taliban control left thousands of Afghans who had worked with the US and their families in a dangerous place, worried their service puts a target on their back. Many US veterans have been receiving emails, calls, and text messages from them begging for help.
"I got an email last night from one of my interpreters," a US Army veteran, who lot his leg in Afghanistan trying to save an Afghan partner in firefight, told Insider last week.
"It's two pages long talking about how his family's getting threatened, how they can't move anymore, and can I help them," Brian Eisch said.
"What the hell am I supposed to do?" he asked. "He's like, 'I got to get my family out of there.' I don't know how to help his family."
Eisch has previously written letters for interpreters to help them get visas. One lives in California. But the current situation is even more dire, as Taliban fighters harass people in the crowds straining to get into Kabul's airport. There are reports that Taliban fights are on the hunt for former Afghan soldiers and those who worked for the US.
Task & Purpose posted this week the audio of a voicemail message a US Marine veteran received from an Afghan who served as an interpreter. The message begins: I'm not ok, man. I'm stuck in Kabul." He says: "I'm in danger, man, with the whole family. I don't know what to do."
-Paul Szoldra (@PaulSzoldra) August 18, 2021
Jeffrey Trammell, a US Army veteran who deployed to Afghanistan twice, told Voice of America he has been swamped by phone calls, emails, and texts focused on getting a former interpreter out of Afghanistan.
The interpreter and his family live within sight of Hamid Karzai International Airport, where evacuations are ongoing, but they have been unable to get there. They were beaten when they tried to make it through the checkpoints.
Retired Army Col. Steven M. Miska, director of the organization First Amendment Voice, told Air Force Magazine this week that hundreds of veterans are talking with former Afghan partners in need of assistance.
Journalists are receiving similar messages from Afghans desperate for a way out.
-Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) August 16, 2021
It is not clear exactly how many Afghans are seeking evacuation, but the number is estimated to be in the tens of thousands.
Though US plans to withdraw from Afghanistan have been in the works for months, the Biden administration is under fire for the slow process of removing those seeking visas up until the country collapsed. Only 137 visas were approved in the first three months of the year, for example, with State Department saying they had a backlog of 17,000 from the Trump administration. The US estimates there are 50,000 to 65,000 Afghans who it is committed to evacuating.
"They were sitting on their hands,"a congressional aide told Politico this week. A State Department official told the outlet, "If you want excuses, there are plenty to choose from, but they'll be little comfort to the dead."
Tom Porter, a veteran and the executive vice president for government affairs with Iraq and Afghan Veterans of America, told Insider that the top priority right now should be to "expeditiously evacuate all American personnel and the many thousands of Afghans who partnered with American forces over the last 20 years."
He said that "they stood shoulder to shoulder with us and our NATO allies at their own personal risk. We need to keep our promises to them and get them to safety now."