News from the Week of January 20th

As the Taliban resurges in Afghanistan and uncertainty builds about a potential troop withdrawal, there is a new sense of urgency to provide safe haven for Afghans who helped U.S. forces. “Every day of this slowdown in processing exposes more and more allies to reprisals from the Taliban and other hostile militant groups,” said Adam Bates, policy counsel at the International Refugee Assistance Project. Congress has not allocated new visas for 2019.

As the partial government shutdown enters its 34th day, the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard is calling the crisis "unacceptable,” saying that “members of the armed forces should not be expected to shoulder this burden.” His remarks come following reports that some Coast Guardsmen are relying on donations from food pantries to feed their families while paychecks remain on hold.  

For the first time in seventy-two years, Canada’s resettlement of refugees is the highest in the world. Data compiled from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) shows that our neighbors to the north resettled nearly 30,000 refugees in 2018—slightly more than those resettled by the European Union, and a few thousand more than those resettled by the United States.

A congressionally mandated commission is considering whether women should be required to register for the Selective Service System—or what’s commonly known as the draft. After visiting 24 sites around the country to collect information for their report, the commission found widespread misconceptions about military service among students, as well as shortfalls in civic education. The commission is “considering ways which the U.S. could offer universal service opportunities to young people,” said Army Reserve Brigadier General Joe Heck (ret.).

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this week, VFAI leaders stepped up to serve communities in TexasNebraskaWashington DC, and North Carolina

Jason Duvall, a Navy veteran and associate pastor at the United Methodist Church, teamed up with VFAI’s founder Scott Cooper to share how they honored MLK's legacyin Princeville, North Carolina.“The commemoration of Dr. King’s life and legacy is at its core a call to care for each other,” they wrote in The Charlotte News and Observer. “We must be our sister’s and our brother’s keeper.”

On Tuesday the Supreme Court lifted injunctions allowing the Trump Administration’s policy banning certain transgender people from the military to go into effect. The policy still is under consideration in the federal courts, but it may now be applied until its fate is decided. VFAI responded to the ruling, saying: “The military is built on a culture of honor and respect for all. We made no distinctions based on where someone came from, whom they chose to love, or their gender identity. If you can meet the standards, you should have the opportunity to serve.”