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Fundraiser to benefit relocated Afghan, Iraqi interpreters

A fundraising dinner and silent auction will be held Friday in the Washington, D.C., area to benefit Afghan and Iraqi combat interpreters who are resettling in the United States.

These men and women who served alongside U.S. forces in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan have gone through extensive national security screening by the State Department in order to receive special immigrant visas to come to the U.S. Their service to the U.S. has put them in danger in their own native countries. A and most of them arrive with only the belongings they can fit in a suitcase. They receive limited financial help from the U.S. government, according to the nonprofit organization No One Left Behind.

The fundraiser for No One Left Behindwill be held from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6 at Christ Church, 7600 Ox Road, Fairfax Station, Va.  It is hosted by the churches in the Northern Virginia Military Ministry Outreach coalition. Among the speakers will be interpreters who have resettled in the U.S. Tickets for the event should be purchased in advance, or donations can be made, at www.nooneleft.org. The website will indicate if tickets are no longer available.

No One Left Behind provides short-term housing, furnishings, a car and other assistance to the most at-risk families, helping them transition to self-sufficiency through an employment assistance program. The average short-term cost of supporting a family of two adults and three children is an estimated $10,000.

"They have nothing, no knives or forks, no furniture, no winter clothes. It's a travesty. They served along with our soldiers," a member of the board of directors for No One Left Behind said. A big key to the families' success is providing the cars, which leads to faster employment and self-sufficiency, he said.​

Since the organization was founded in October 2013, it has helped hundreds of families resettle, with varying degrees of assistance based on funds available and the level of assistance needed. The vast majority resettle in the greater Washington, D.C., area.

From October 2013 to October 2014, more than 4,000 Afghan families came to the U.S. under the special immigrant visa program. Although there are thousands of veteran and military service organizations, this is the only organization addressing issues faced by the Iraqi and Afghan interpreters who have helped military forces, according to No One Left Behind.

Its national headquarters is in Virginia, but it also has nine chapters throughout the U.S. that are staffed by volunteers. The organization was founded by former Army Capt. Matt Zeller, who has been an advocate for the interpreters.

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