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Author: TriSec    Date: 01/04/2022 11:21:39

Good Morning. Happy New Year from all of us here at AAV.

We'll start right out this morning in Afghanistan, of course by way of Massachusetts. It's a few months in the rear-view mirror now, but the fallout will linger for a long time.

Given the chaos created when we left, many Afghanis are still desperately trying to flee the country. But it doesn't seem to be very easy to get into the United States.

BOSTON -- Haseena Niazi had pinned her hopes of getting her fiancé out of Afghanistan on a rarely used immigration provision.

The 24-year-old Massachusetts resident was almost certain his application for humanitarian parole would get approved by the U.S. government, considering the evidence he provided on the threats from the Taliban he received while working on women's health issues at a hospital near Kabul.

But this month, the request was summarily denied, leaving the couple reeling after months of anxiety.

"He had everything they wanted," said Niazi, a green card holder originally from Afghanistan. "It doesn't make any sense why they'd reject it. It's like a bad dream. I still can't believe it."

Federal immigration officials have issued denial letters to hundreds of Afghans seeking temporary entry into the country for humanitarian reasons in recent weeks, to the dismay of Afghans and their supporters. By doing so, immigrant advocates say, the Biden administration has failed to honor its promise to help Afghans who were left behind after the U.S. military withdrew from the country in August and the Taliban took control.

"It was a huge disappointment," said Caitlin Rowe, a Texas attorney who said she recently received five denials, including one for an Afghan police officer who helped train U.S. troops and was beaten by the Taliban. "These are vulnerable people who genuinely thought there was hope, and I don't think there was."

Since the U.S. withdrawal, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has received more than 35,000 applications for humanitarian parole, of which it has denied about 470 and conditionally approved more than 140, Victoria Palmer, an agency spokesperson, said this week.

The little-known program, which doesn't provide a path to lawful permanent residence in the country, typically receives fewer than 2,000 requests annually from all nationalities, of which USCIS approves an average of about 500, she said.

I presume that for us as Americans, this is going to be another Vietnam in our psyche - it will likely take decades for any resemblance of what we consider "normal" to return.

Moving on, let's do something completely different. I have a "Then and Now" series of stories here, about women in the military. Of course we must start with Betty White. Among the many tributes pouring in last week, was a brief note from the United States Army.

In a statement released on Friday, the military branch lamented the death of White and detailed her association with the armed services.

"We are saddened by the passing of Betty White," the Army said in a statement on Twitter. "Not only was she an amazing actress, she also served during WWII as a member of the American Women's Voluntary Services. A true legend on and off the screen."

White found work modeling in the late 1930s, but put her larger aspirations on hold during World War II in order to work with the American Women's Voluntary Services (AWVS) in 1941.

The AWVS sent female volunteers to take on roles including firefighting, ambulance and truck driving, and aerial photography.

During an interview with Cleveland magazine in 2010, White said that her assignment consisted of driving a PX truck of supplies to barracks in the Hollywood Hills — while attending dances for departing troops at night.

"It was a strange time and out of balance with everything," White told the magazine, "which I'm sure the young people are going through now."

And today? Well - there are still beauty pageants and modeling going on. A recent participant at one of these competitions is actually an active-duty soldier, and she's got a few things to say.

Like every contestant, Miss Colorado wanted to be the next Miss America. Unlike the contestants, Miss Colorado is an active duty soldier in the U.S. Army.

Spc. Maura Spence-Carroll is an all source intelligence analyst in 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, based out of Fort Carson, Colorado.

Ultimately, Miss Alaska, Emma Broyles, won the title of Miss America 2021, but Spence-Carroll feels she still has much to accomplish for the remaining six months she holds the Miss Colorado crown.

She was the first soldier to ever win Miss Colorado. If she had won the 2021 Miss America competition, Spence-Carroll would have been the first active duty soldier to do so.

“My responsibility as a soldier comes first,” Spence-Carroll told 5280 Magazine. “We’re soldiers 24/7, but thankfully, we do get time off throughout the day just like any civilian job.”

Spence-Carroll is involved with a nonprofit group called 22 Too Many: Ending The Epidemic of Military and Veteran Suicide, and said she is passionate about mental health advocacy.

“She is outspoken regarding her own experiences in receiving mental healthcare services,” according to the 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office.

As she packed her bags and began her Miss America journey, Spence-Carroll shared her excitement on Instagram.

“I’m ready to show this country what it looks like to refuse to give up on any of your dreams,” she wrote. “Active duty soldier, intelligence analyst, advocate, titleholder, trailblazer, leader — I’m proud of every piece of the patchwork that makes up the woman I am.”

So here we are, day four of the new year. It's already been an interesting 72 hours here in the TriSec household. Let's see what happens next!


11 comments (Latest Comment: 01/05/2022 03:57:45 by shelaghc)
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