Leland veteran who served in Afghanistan working to get Afghans to safety

LELAND, NC (WWAY) — The terror in Afghanistan is touching lives all the way across the world in the Cape Fear Region.

Eric Terashima, a recently retired U.S. Marine Colonel living in Leland, served three tours in Afghanistan.

“I feel like we’re abandoning my friends. You can probably tell how upset I am just talking about it and thinking about it,” Terashima said. “They are in so much danger over there and to not stand behind people who worked with us, who fought with us…it feels like it’s exercising futility. All the blood, sweat, tears, people who got hurt, killed…Americans and Afghans both.”

The veteran told the Afghan friends he left behind to call if they ever needed anything, so now he’s in Dallas, Texas working to get Afghan interpreters that worked with the United States out of the country and immigrated into the U.S.

Terashima has been paying for their medical bills, plane tickets, and writing letters of recommendation. So far he’s successfully immigrated four families, a total of 15 people.

“You can’t put a price on a human life and I’ve got these guys in the United States, a safe and secure future, is very very meaningful,” Terashima said.

To be eligible for immigration, Terashima said there are several documents the interpreters must provide. Including, but not limited to, an HR letter proving they have worked for the U.S. for at least two years. They must also have a letter from a supervisor stating they are not a threat to U.S. security and they are currently under threat in Afghanistan.

As the embassy in Afghanistan has shuttered, Terashima compares the situation to getting documents from a company that basically doesn’t exist anymore. If they do get the documents and they’re caught with them, it could result in their death.

“I’m trying to further coordinate to have the policies changed. They need to be changed, it’s far too stringent,” Terashima said. “Or at least get them to a safe area while we try to sort this thing out from a bureaucratic policy standpoint.”

Terashima wishes the U.S. would work to get refugees to Guam, but he will continue to help as many as he can just as he has done for more than a dozen others.

“For these 15 people, I’ve been able to start them on a new life, which is a lot. I wish I could save more but if all I can get are these 15 then I will have done a lot for these 15 folks,” Terashima said.

For those interested in helping the cause, Terashima says to send letters to the president, congressmen, and senators asking to minimize the administrative requirements for a refugee visa and increase the level of granted visas. Ask the president to evacuate the nominees to Guam or anywhere that is safe.

To contribute to Terashima’s GoFundMe, visit here.

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