FORT LEE, Va. (WRIC) — Fort Lee, a U.S. Army Garrison near Hopewell, was the first place in the United States to welcome large groups of Afghan refugees after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in July. People arrived at Fort Lee to finish up immigration paperwork and further plan their resettlement.
Now, Operation Allies Welcome said the last group of Afghan refugees has left Fort Lee to find new homes.
“Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Guardians have given – and continue to give – steadfast support as part of Operation Allies Welcome,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, U.S. Northern Command commander. “Last summer, Fort Lee was the first of eight DOD installations to welcome Afghans as they underwent the resettlement process, and today the task force at Fort Lee is the first to bid farewell to the Afghans as they proceed on to their lives in America.”
So far, there have been more than 25,000 Afghans evacuated to the United States and resettled into communities across the country.
Marine Corps Base Quantico in Northern Virginia, Fort Pickett in Blackstone and five other military bases across the country are still working to provide temporary housing for around 45,000 refugees, according to Operation Allies Welcome.
During their time at Fort Lee or one of the other bases Afghan refugees are provided with medical care, the chance to apply for work authorization and resettlement services.
All of the people brought to the U.S. from Afghanistan had already undergone extensive screening processes before receiving approval to travel here. They also had to receive various vaccinations and take multiple COVID tests.
As these individuals and families work on starting a new life, there are different ways for people to help. An organization called Welcome.US is working to provide refugees with help paying for flights, financial sponsorship, places to stay and other resources. Another organization called Sponsor Circles helps refugees with paperwork, fundraising and welcoming them into their community.