ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — AMVETS is a national veteran’s service organization, advocating for millions of veterans across the country. They’re also assisting in the current evacuation efforts over in Afghanistan.
AMVETS National Executive Director and Fairport native Joe Chenelly says they’re working hard to keep the federal government’s promise of leaving no one behind. “It’s our ethos it’s who we are,” he said.
But in order to do this, he says we need more time. Right now he has a list of 17 names he’s focused on, in Afghanistan.
“We’ve actually had six we’ve been able to help who’ve successfully evacuated,” Chenelly said.
But as time goes on, and the Taliban expands their control, communication with those Afghans is getting harder.
“Since the bombings late this week, we’ve not been able to touch base with 14 of them.”
This is partly why he wants to extend the August 31 deadline set by President Biden, for pulling out U.S. troops.
Especially with major delays in getting visas to those trying to evacuate.
“Things are becoming more difficult, to be able to verify, as some of the more easily verified people are through the process now, I would think it’s natural things are taking a little bit longer,” Chenelly said.
Chenelly attended a meeting Friday with White House officials to discuss efforts in assisting Afghan refugees as they come in. But the topic of extending this deadline wasn’t as high on the table as he’d like it to be.
He’s begging President Biden now, to hear his plea.
“The numbers of people who are safely able to leave the airport are going down, there’s no doubt in my mind we have to extend this deadline,” Chenelly said. “Or we’re going to leave people behind.”
So far 13 servicemembers have lost their lives in the attack on Kabul airport earlier this week. Chenelly says the amount of heroism and sacrifice of our service men and women is incredible.
As for the 17 Afghans he’s focusing on, there’s no way of telling how many of those names are still alive or not. The Taliban would be the only source for that information.