Published: October 17, 2022
Washington, DC —This month, Welcome.US and Blue Star Families marked the one year anniversary of when they and dozens of other military and veterans service organizations came together in common purpose to welcome the nearly 80,000 of Afghan allies forced to flee their homes in Afghanistan. Alongside national and local non-profits, corporations and thousands of Americans, this coalition constitutes one of the broadest coalitions in support of refugee resettlement efforts in American history.
Welcome.US and Blue Star Families released the following joint statement:
“For more than two decades, our service members forged unforgettable bonds with Afghan allies as colleagues, friends, and family. It’s why one year ago, Welcome.US, Blue Star Families, dozens of military and veterans organizations, and thousands of everyday Americans came together to welcome 80,000 Afghan newcomers. We welcomed them to our cities and towns; to workplaces and houses of worship; to neighborhoods, schools, playgrounds, and homes. Together, we collectively acted to fulfill this country’s promise as a beacon of safety to those seeking freedom and refuge. At an unprecedented scale and speed, we’ve created the most diverse welcoming coalition in the history of resettlement, and we’re just getting started.”
On October 7, 2021, just weeks after the fall of Kabul, the arrival of nearly 80,000 of our Afghan allies quickly overwhelmed the traditional resettlement infrastructure, but Americans clamored to answer the call, with military members, veterans and their families leading the way.
Over twenty years, service members forged bonds with Afghans as colleagues, friends, and family. Their sacrifices ignite our sense of duty, which is why, beginning one year ago, our military and veteran families met the moment. They joined congregations, Afghan-American and diaspora organizations, veteran and military ecosystem organizations, families, and students to welcome 80,000 Afghans. Together, they acted to fulfill this country’s promise as a beacon of safety to those fleeing oppression and danger. At an unprecedented scale and speed, they forged a new model to welcome newcomers to the United States.
Veteran and military service organizations helped lead this collaborative effort. Just a few examples include:
- No One Left Behind granted Afghans money to purchase much-needed cars.
- Team Rubicon and NOVA RAFT organized volunteers for home setups.
- Combined Arms and Veterans Bridge Home expanded their program offerings to include Afghan allies.
- Honor The Promise provided community and holistic health support to newcomers.
- Military spouses founded REACT DC to provide wrap-around support to Afghan families.
- Sisters of Service mobilized volunteers to resettle over forty female tactical platoon members.
- Privately, veterans went to extraordinary efforts to assist Afghans with whom they had formed powerful connections, including their former translators and their families. Individuals raised money and undertook the resettlement of dozens of Afghan families, including by opening their homes.
- Veteran small business owners carved out a new mission to hire Afghan newcomers, providing not only employment but professional mentorship and network connections.
And while reflecting on the past year we know the work must continue. Afghan newcomers continue to face challenges while building their new lives. They still struggle to access legal support, secure careers commensurate with their skills and education, find affordable housing, and access reliable transportation. That is why we are working with our partners and the American public to offer new solutions that will help Afghans secure employment at their skill level, access critical free legal assistance for their asylum claims, and acquire essential goods, like furniture, hygiene products and diapers.
At Welcome.US, our mission is to unleash the desire and capacity of Americans to welcome newcomers and help them thrive. We operate on the evidence that direct participation with newcomers transforms both the welcomer and those being welcomed. We are not an advocacy organization or an operational agency providing direct services to newcomers.
By making it easier for Americans from all walks of life to participate in the work of welcoming — and telling their stories — we are building a movement that celebrates America’s welcoming spirit by providing an opportunity to serve for all who seek to welcome. Our diverse community of Welcomers reaches across real and perceived divides to meet the needs of newcomers more effectively.
In partnership with local and national resettlement agencies, diaspora organizations and leaders, refugees, community sponsorship groups, nonprofits, businesses, faith-based institutions, veterans, universities, four former Presidents and four former First Ladies, Welcome.US is the single point of entry for Americans who want to get involved and support those who are starting new lives in the United States. To learn more about Welcome.US, please visit welcome.us.