Veterans & Refugee Workers React to Events in Afghanistan

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Watching the images coming from Afghanistan has not been easy for those in the state with connections, including veterans and people who work with refugees.

“It's just been a heartbreaking day seeing all this strife,” said Rep. Matt Blumenthal, D – Stamford.

Blumenthal served in Afghanistan as a rifle platoon leader with the Marines in 2011.

On Sunday, he spoke with other veterans.

“We've just been talking about how tough it is to watch everything that's happening over there, especially knowing that there are so many allies, whether interpreters, or other folks who worked with our military or diplomatic corps in Afghanistan who are still at risk as we speak,” said Blumenthal.

The Pentagon is sending an additional 1,000 troops to Kabul to help with the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, according to two defense officials.

Events unfolding in Afghanistan are also being watched closely in New Haven by staff at the Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services or IRIS.

“It's so tragic. I'm thinking about the humanitarian crisis that's going on and will probably even snowball after today,” said Chris George, executive director of IRIS.

George expects hundreds of thousands of people will flee the country.

He thinks – while it’s late now - the U.S. needs to prioritize getting people out, including those who helped the Americans.

“It would be a humanitarian mission, not a military operation. And that's what we need to do and just get them out to anywhere, anywhere where they can be safe,” said George.

George says in the past five years, about 500 Afghan refugees have settled in Connecticut.

And he expects potentially double that number to head here in the next year.

Afghans being targeted by the Taliban for helping U.S. forces could be brought to the U.S., and local leaders say they would be welcomed in Connecticut.

“I'm already getting phone calls and emails and text messages from people all over the state who are asking how they can help,” said George.

To help, George says the need will be everything from finding housing to resettling refugees, including assisting with enrolling kids in school and finding jobs.

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