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Hamilton College Grad and Afghan War Vet Exposes Dangerous Betrayal

Hamilton alumnus and Afghan combat veteran Matt Zeller and Janis Shinwari, a former Afghan interpreter speak at Hamilton College. (One time Photo use permission for this Hamilton College story. Photo by Nancy L. Ford)
Hamilton alumnus and Afghan combat veteran Matt Zeller and Janis Shinwari, a former Afghan interpreter speak at Hamilton College. Above, Zeller and Shinwari meet with Hamilton lacrosse players who recently raised funds for the organization. (One time Photo use permission for this Hamilton College story. Photo by Nancy L. Ford)

A 2004 Hamilton College graduate and Afghan War veteran made a plea for help Tuesday morning on WIBX’s Keeler Show, blowing the whistle on a travesty and betrayal of our trusted allies, that could have a lasting affect on America’s security.

“If you make a promise, you keep your word,” said veteran Matt Zeller, who along with the Afghan translator, who saved his life, Janis Shinwari, spoke to students, faculty and the public at Hamilton College on Monday night. The travesty, according to Zeller, is that the U.S. is breaking a promise that was made to Afghan and Iraqi citizens that if they work with America in the War on Terror, they will be protected when the U.S. exits the region. Unfortunately he claims, because Congress and the administration (dating back through President Trump and the Obama and George W. Bush administration) are failing to act on their visas, nearly 35,000 Afghan and Iraqis allies and their families are stranded in their countries and with each day that passes, their lives are more in danger. Zeller says that these people who work with the "When it comes to our allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, we need to honor our word!"U.S. military not only have targets on their backs; “but, they are hunted with bounties placed on their heads.”  Zeller claims that just last week, a husband and wife who worked as translators for the U.S. were shot and killed in front of their children by the Taliban as retaliation for their cooperation with America.

LISTEN TO THE COMPLETE INTERVIEW ON KEELER HERE:

Zeller’s own story is just as breathtaking from the beginning when he first entered Afghanistan, very quickly recognizing Shinwari as his brother.  He was embedded with Afghan troops for training purposes and was assigned Shinwari as his interpreter. “He saved my life,” said Zeller who says that he was about to be shot by two Taliban fighters when Shinwari shot and killed both enemy fighters, saving his life. “I should be dead,” Zeller said. Months later when Zeller arrived back in the United States, he received word from Shinwari, who was stranded in Afghanistan, that his life was in danger and that he was unable to get the visa to come to America.  That’s when Zeller went to work putting pressure on U.S. officials to speed up the process for the Afghan translator and his wife. The work paid off and Shinwari and his wife were admitted into the U.S..  When he arrived, he had nothing but the clothes on his back, so Zeller helped raise money for the couple and were able to accomplish enough funds to cover food and rent for one year in order to get them started in their new life.  That’s when yet another unexpected twist occurred.

Former Afghanistan War interpreter interpreter Janis Shinwari speaks at Hamilton College on the campaign called www.NooneLeft.org. (One time Photo use permission for this Hamilton College story. Photo by Nancy L. Ford)
Former Afghanistan War interpreter interpreter Janis Shinwari speaks at Hamilton College on the campaign called www.NooneLeft.org. (One time Photo use permission for this Hamilton College story. Photo by Nancy L. Ford)

“He’s about as close to a saint, as I’ve ever met,” said Zeller. “You see, when I tried to give him the money to start his new life, he thought about it for half of a second and he said to me ‘brother, I can’t take this money.’  That’s when Shinwari sprung his idea on Zeller.  “Could we use the money to start an organization to help all of the other guys we served with get over here,” asked Shinwari.  That was 3 1/2 years ago and today, their foundation called “No-one Left Behind” now has chapters in 8 different cities across the country. So far, the organization has helped 4000 of these people who were loyal to the United States obtain their visas and arrive in America. The money they raise has also helped these new arrivals when it comes to initial living expenses, job opportunities and connection with American family mentors to help them become adjusted. However, Zeller says there’s much more that has to be done as thousands of others loyal to America have gone through a hyper extensive vetting process and have been sponsored by their U.S. counterpart; yet, they still have their visas being held up in Washington.

“I will tell you as a veteran, to those of us who served with these people, they’re just as much of a veteran as I am, if not more and when it came to my survival, my weapon wasn’t the most important thing I had, it was this Afghan standing next to me.

Zeller and Shinwari urged people in the area to visit their website and contact members of Congress and demand that they allocate the proper number of visas. “When it comes to our allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, we need to honor our word,” said Zeller.

For information about the program and to make a donation visit http://nooneleft.org/ or click here.

Note: The Hamilton lacrosse team has designated the April 22nd home game against Trinity as their ‘No One Left Behind’ game, and creating a corresponding GoFundMe to raise money for the Rochester chapter of No One Left Behind.  They are also making t-shirts for the game with the hopes to sell some of them and raise more money for the Rochester chapter. The Lacrosse team raised $5000 earlier this year for the Rochester based program.

Watch these reports on FOX News and CNN:

CNN report here.
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