Maintenance window scheduled to begin at February 14th 2200 est. until 0400 est. February 15th


Forgot Password?

    Or login with Facebook
    Defense Visual Information Distribution Service Logo

    Afghan guests play important support roles at Fort Pickett



    Story by Chief Petty Officer John Pearl 

    Operation Allies Welcome - Operation Allies Refuge   

    Sayed, Hamid and Nelofar – three Afghans who arrived at Fort Pickett, Virginia, in September 2021 – are among a group of Afghans who play important support roles at the U.S. military installations. Fort Pickett is one of eight safe havens in the United States that have provided transportation, temporary housing, medical screening and general support for Afghan guests since the Department of Homeland Security-led Operation Allies Welcome mission began.

    At Fort Pickett, guests are staying in military barracks. Each building has a nominated and approved building leader. Before their resettlement to different parts of the United States, Sayed, Hamid and Nelofar were selected as building leaders.

    A building leader’s responsibility includes serving as a direct liaison between the residents of their building and the Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and the other agencies supporting the operation, including non-governmental organizations. Building leaders participate in daily meetings and are conduits of information to include the status of the buildings, the health and well-being of residents; requests for information from the residents; and education opportunities available.

    According to Sayed, the complexity of being a building leader requires the confidence of guests. “The representatives of buildings are responsible for communicating problems people face. [In Sayed’s case] I needed to get to know them. After that, they trusted me more day-by-day.”

    Like Sayed, guests living in Nelofar’s building trusted her with a range of topics. In addition to keeping Fort Pickett leadership aware of guest needs, she also communicated new cultural responsibilities to the guests. For example, she encouraged guests in her building to attend educational opportunities offered on base, including English as a second language (ESL) classes, financial management in the U.S., cultural awareness and briefings about their new home states.

    “I joined all the classes, and I encouraged the women to join these classes,” said Nelofar. Further, she encouraged Afghan women to ensure their children took part in educational opportunities. “They should try to adjust to the land of opportunities. I wanted to motivate them to fulfill their dreams.”

    Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division Maj. James Clement, mayor of one of Fort Pickett’s villages for its guests, observed the impact of his building leaders daily. “Nelofar has been a steady and caring leader for her building and our overall Afghan guest population aboard Fort Pickett.”

    Hamid noted those departing Pickett are now prepared to confidently start new lives where their children can attend schools and universities.
    “Hamid speaks fluent English and has been a vocal leader among the Afghan guests. He is going to do great things in the United States,” said Clement.

    Each building leader earned an Army Public Service Commendation Medal upon their departure. Their leadership impacted and continues to impact successful resettlements. Today, Afghan guests continue to leave Fort Pickett and resettle partly because of the work done by Sayed, Hamid and Nelofar and other building leaders across the facility.

    Operations will continue on Fort Pickett until the last Afghan is resettled. According to Brig. Gen. Paul Craft, Senior Commander Task Force Pickett, successful Afghan resettlement in America is a primary focus. “We work side-by-side with our guests to try to give them a glimpse of what it will be like to live and thrive in America.”



    Date Taken: 01.21.2022
    Date Posted: 01.21.2022 11:21
    Story ID: 413210
    Location: FORT PICKETT, VA, US 

    Web Views: 156
    Downloads: 1