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Nebraska woman assists Afghans who worked alongside U.S.

“We made a commitment to them”
Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 10:39 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska native Shelli Heil spent three years from 2012 to 2014 working in Afghanistan, side by side with locals, as part of the US Aid program.

Now with the rise of the Taliban, she’s hoping to help those who want out to do so safely.

“They know that we are trying, and we’re doing all we can, and it is a process,” Heil said. “It’s hard to hear the fear in them because their fear is more for their children. They’re fearful that if something happens to them, what will happen to their wives and their children?”

After leaving Afghanistan, Heil began helping some of those men she worked with taking advantage of a program intended to assist those who had assisted the U.S. efforts, the Special Immigrant Visa Program.

She has written 63 letters on behalf of those she worked with and 21 have already relocated to the United States, most in California.

“My feeling is, these men served the U.S. mission., and they did it knowing that they could be in danger,” the Fremont native said.

“And we made it a commitment to them. I do think it’s our duty, and all the ones who are here, they have jobs and kids in school and they are not a burden to this society. And I think they are a blessing here.”

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