As I’m finishing Ken Burns’ amazing documentary film, The Vietnam War, I’m struck by how similar my war, Vietnam, is to the war in Afghanistan. These quotes from a fellow Vietnam veteran are burned in my mind:
“Every major contact I remember with the NVA was initiated by them ambushing us.”
“The disillusionment for me began when I was going back to fight at places we had already fought before. We had fought, captured, and left, and then the NVA came right back. You don’t like getting wounded in places you’ve already been before.”
Replace NVA with Taliban and the statements completely apply.
The modern soldier, be it a Marine, Navy Seal, Special Forces unit or anyone on the front lines in Afghanistan, most assuredly use translators as both interpreters and cultural advisors just as we did in Vietnam.
As a combat veteran from Vietnam, it’s immoral to hire native interpreters, rely heavily on their assistance in times of war and then dispose of them when their lives, and the lives of their families, are threatened just for working for the U.S. and coalition forces. For saving lives. Basic humanity should apply.
We should be helping interpreters who are legally immigrating to the United States. It’s not only a moral obligation as basic humans, but also a matter of national security. If we fail to help interpreters who help us in war, we Americans will not be trusted if and when we go to war again in another country.
NOLB is the only organization exclusively supporting Iraqi and Afghan translators and their families. Their mission is absolutely critical to saving lives. To preventing more tragedy. To upholding America’s promise.
Please consider helping our mission and thank you for reading!
Vietnam Veteran (1969-1970) 23rd Infantry Division-Americal
NOLB Founding Board Member
NPS-Vietnam Veterans Memorial Volunteer