25-year-old Andy Slivka is a college senior in Berea, Ohio, studying to become a mental health counselor for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Over the course of the last 6 years, Slivka says he learned a lot about love, life and loss. At the age of 19, Lance Cpl. Slivka joined his fellow Marines in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.
His duties included going out on dangerous patrols in hostile territories and by his side, he always had Zia– the platoon’s English interpreter.
“He was our dad in the war zone… There was no other interpreter I’ve ever worked with in the U.S. Marine Corps like Zia… he showed tremendous care and compassion.”
The 39-year-old husband and father of six worked as an interpreter for the US military in Afghanistan for four years.
“Zia’s work went above and beyond the role of a translator. While putting his life on the line to help U.S. troops, he faced backlash from other Afghans — especially Taliban sympathizers,” Slivka said.
The Taliban is apparently now using biometric systems to carry out attacks on former interpreters employed by the U.S. military, Fox News reports.
Slivka has been trying since 2013 to help Zia get out. He’s created a GoFundMe page to raise money for Zia and his family and to help them obtain an SIV, or Special Immigrant Visa, which would allow them entry into the United States.
Other Marine Corps vets who appear in the GoFundMe video say Zia was part of their brotherhood, he dropped whatever he was doing to help US troops with their mission.
“You never leave a man behind…that’s what’s ingrained in you from day one in boot camp,” said one of the men featured in the video.
Now, Zia is facing the risk of life and liberty, because he did the right thing and served alongside US troops as their allies.
Zia is one of thousands of Afghans who served with the US military waiting to get a Special Immigrant Visa. Matt Zeller, an Afghan war vet and Purple Heart recipient, founded the group, “No One Left Behind” which helps advocate for the continuation and expansion of the current visa program for Afghan and Iraqi interpreters.
Slivka and his fellow Marines are calling on Congress to reauthorize and expand its visa program so that people like Zia can still come to the US.
The program will expire at the end of the year, so if Congress fails to allocate any new visas, Zia and his family will be left behind to be killed by “the very enemies they helped us fight,” Slivka said.
According to Fox News, “Congress authorized a total of 7,000 visas for Afghan principal applicants in the National Defense Authorization Acts for 2015 and 2016. But as of Sept. 25, 2016, only 1,825 visas remain.”
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