Veteran trying to evacuate Afghan family to SWFL

A Southwest Florida business owner, who was deployed to Afghanistan during his time in the U.S. military, is now fighting to get a former interpreter to our region for a better life. Every minute in Afghanistan is a matter of life and death presently.

Veteran Aaron Forum, the owner of Shoot Center in Cape Coral, says his former interpreter is experiencing the chaos in Afghanistan personally, and he is trying to get his friend, his wife and their daughter and sons out of Kabul and into Lee County.

Forum’s friend is Frank. We protected his full name to keep his identity safe. Frank was able to contact Forum on the phone recently in a cry for help.

“He was a simple man, a good father,” Forum said.

Before Forum owned his Cape Coral business, he served eight months in Afghanistan, and Frank was a crucial member of a team that took over a strategic compound.

“We’re riding through the desert one night, and I’ll never forget he said to me, “I wish I was a poor farmer in America who knew nothing,’” Forum said.

Weeks ago, Frank connected with Forum through WhatsApp and begged him to help save his family.

“One word stood out to me,” Forum said. “He called me brother and he said, “I would do this for you. Please, do this for me.’”

We asked Forum if he believes he can help his friend.

“It’s a coin toss. It’s a 50-50,” Forum said. “I just want to get him here, and hopefully, he’ll get to live his American dream.”

We first asked Aaron Forum if he knew whether Frank and his family were safe after the attacks that occurred Thursday, but he said he did not know. Then, he reached back out to us and confirmed they were safe, but Forum did not know if he would be able to ensure they would get out of Afghanistan on a military aircraft.

Anyone interested in helping a refugee family can visit the Lutheran Social Services website, an organization based in Jacksonville working to to find Afghan refugees new homes. Lutheran Social Services has spent decades helping refugees find new homes in the U.S. The group is seeking money, furniture and volunteer help.

Reporter:Michael Hudak
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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