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    Army Reserve Soldier welcomes former interpreter to America

    Army Reserve Soldier welcomes former Afghan interpreter to America

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Robert Ham | After more than six years, Robert Ham finally welcomed friend and former interpreter...... read more read more



    Story by Lt. Col. Gregg Moore 

    311th Expeditionary Sustainment Command   

    SAN ANTONIO - Thousands of Afghan men and women risked their lives and the lives of their families by supporting coalition forces in the fight against the Taliban since 2001. Many of these people were interpreters who developed close bonds with the Soldiers with whom they fought side-by-side during combat operations. Those Soldiers now work to bring many of their Afghan comrades to the United States to begin a new life without the Taliban threat.

    After more than six years, Robert Ham finally welcomed friend and former interpreter Saifullah Haqmal to America Feb. 16. Ham, now an Army Reserve staff sergeant with the 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) in Los Angeles, worked with his congressional representatives and the State Department to bring the Haqmal family to the United States.

    “I’m sad to leave my troubled home of Afghanistan, especially my mother, but I’m so thankful to be in this beautiful country. I almost can’t believe I’m here," said Haqmal.

    Haqmal was the long-time public affairs interpreter for unit after unit as American troops rotated through Afghanistan year after year. Ham worked with Haqmal during a yearlong deployment from 2009 to 2010 with the 25th Infantry Division in the Khost province, Afghanistan.

    “He was our interpreter the entire year we were there. He was there before and after,” said Ham.

    The visa request was first submitted in 2009 and then again in 2013 followed by dozens of congressional inquiries. Ham said the process is very bogged down due to the several layers of government, which includes a Department of Homeland Security review. Haqmal arrived to San Antonio with his wife and three beautiful children thanks to the help at many levels. In addition to writing his own congressmen and women, many of Ham’s friends wrote their congressional offices on Haqmal’s behalf. Ham gained additional help from the No One Left Behind nonprofit, which helps interpreters from Iraq and Afghanistan come to America.



    Date Taken: 02.16.2016
    Date Posted: 02.24.2016 16:38
    Story ID: 189981
    Location: SAN ANTONIO, TX, US 
    Hometown: LOS ANGELES, CA, US

    Web Views: 661
    Downloads: 3