“I should have died on April 28, 2008,” says No One Left Behind Founder, Matt Zeller. “Instead, I was able to return to my family and my beautiful baby girl because my Afghan interpreter, Janis Shinwari, killed two Taliban fighters who were about to shoot me.”
Janis and Matt’s story is not all that unique. It may not be commonly known, but Afghan and Iraqi interpreters have saved thousands of our troop’s lives overseas. In return for their service they are promised a Special Immigrant Visa so they can come live in the United States. However, many times getting here is not a smooth process.
“It took me three years to get Janis and his family away from the Taliban fighters hunting them,” Matt recalls. Janis was lucky to have Matt work hard to expedite the process of getting his visa and moving to America, but the two realized that many interpreters were not as fortunate. Even if they are able to obtain a Special Immigrant Visa after years of service and requests, once they get here they are completely on their own with no aid to get them started.
In November 2013, Matt and Janis decided to take action, and started No One Left Behind. Their goal was simple: “Ensure America treats our interpreters as the heroes and veterans they are.” One of the main ways they do this is by helping interpreters who have recently arrived locate, furnish and maintain a temporary living space until they can get their feet on the ground.
Since it’s founding, No One Left Behind has helped resettle over 350 people throughout the United States. Matt says, “In almost every single instance, we’ve used a U-Haul truck to deliver the items we use to furnish the homes of these heroes. I cannot begin to describe to you the emotion – the pure joy – one experiences delivering free furniture to refugees – and in this case veterans – who recently arrived with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Without companies like U-Haul we simply couldn’t accomplish our mission.”
For more information on the charity and a donation link, please check out their website at www.nooneleft.org. To see how U-Haul helped out at the 2014 Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride, click here!
Have you ever used a U-Haul to change a person’s life for the better? We’d love to hear about it! Tell us your U-Haul Story in the comments!