North Texans Try to Help Afghans Get Out, Get Settled

Former marine Andrew Vernon is trying to help his former Afghan interpreter get out of the country, while non-profit Hope Supply Co. is trying to help refugees once they arrive here

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As the situation in Afghanistan gets worse, those trying to get people out of the country get more anxious.

"I'm not a foreign policy expert. I'm not an Afghan expert. I just went on a bizarre 7-month camping trip there," former marine Andrew Vernon said. "We spend our 7-month deployment driving all over the Afghan countryside looking for roadside bombs."

Vernon was a platoon commander in 2011 and 2012. He worked alongside fellow marines and an Afghan interpreter he calls 'H' for safety reasons.

"A couple of weeks ago as everything began to unravel in Afghanistan, I started receiving frantic messages from him asking for my help," Vernon said. "At one point he was denied because he only worked with coalition forces for 11-months, and the requirement is two years, which is a little bit nonsensical to me. He worked with the coalition in some very dangerous areas longer than I was deployed in Afghanistan."

Meanwhile, inside the 5,000 square foot Hope Supply Co. warehouse in Dallas, pallets of boxes marked 'Afghan Refugee Project' are ready for pickup. The non-profit is the largest supplier of donated diapers and other sanitary needs in Texas. The boxes will go to other non-profits to help Afghan refugees who make it to North Texas get settled.

"That was not originally part of our mission, but we've adopted it to our mission," warehouse manager Robert Dudley said. "It's a little upsetting and sad, to see that those people have to go through a situation like that... just because they tried to help us out."

Hope Supply Co. needs donations of larger size five and six diapers, and cash to increase their bulk buying power as the needs increase.

Vernon said he's been calling people in Congress and writing referrals in hopes of getting 'H' and his family the paperwork he needs to leave Afghanistan.

"I think we owe him more than just walking away," Vernon said.

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