Walmart dedicates funds for veterans, Afghan refugee rescue efforts

When the government doesn’t step up to do what needs to be done, the private sector comes in. In this case, it is Walmart and the corporation is dedicating $1M to three non-profits who support veterans and are assisting in relocating Afghan refugees.

Walmart’s customers can get involved, too. That opportunity will likely bring in a lot of money in donations, too. Americans are grateful for the sacrifices of American soldiers and their Afghan helpers and looking for ways to help.

“We’re looking to the cross-cultural experience of our veteran and Afghan associates to support refugees, service members and one another, as veteran leaders at Walmart explore ways to support these efforts,” Dan Bartlett, Walmart’s executive vice president of corporate affairs, said in a statement explaining the move. “We’re offering options for customers to get involved. And the Walmart Foundation is committing $1 million to three nonprofits supporting Afghan refugees entering the U.S., as well as veterans and their families.”

The retail behemoth’s $1 million donation will be distributed between No One Left Behind, which describes itself as an “association of wartime allies in the U.S. dedicated to ensuring that America keeps its promise to our interpreters from Iraq and Afghanistan;” the Lutheran Immigration and Rescue Service, an organization working to provide support for Afghan refugees arriving in the U.S.; and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), a group that operates a 24-hour helpline for veterans and those grieving the loss of a military loved one.

If the name Dan Bartlett sounds familiar, it is because he’s a longtime Bushie. He began working with George W. Bush in 1994 during W.’s first campaign for governor. He’s been Walmart’s executive vice president of Corporate Affairs since 2013.

While Biden and Pelosi are concentrating on celebrating the passage of the massive spending package they call an infrastructure bill in the House, people are noticing that their immediate priorities may be misguided. They should read the room.

Airbnb is opening free housing for up to 20,000 Afghan refugees across the world as a contribution. It hopes other corporations will do the same.

“The displacement and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the US and elsewhere is one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time. We feel a responsibility to step up,” Chesky wrote in a series of tweets announcing the move.

The company will pay for the housing of the Afghan refugees, who will be sheltered by partnered hosts in cities around the world. Nongovernmental organizations and regional partners helping refugees resettle also will be helping.

Chesky did not say how long the refugees would be offered housing or whether the company would help with any long-term resettlement.

Airbnb didn’t specify which other countries will provide housing in its program but Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom have all taken in refugees so far. This is an interesting contribution because Airbnb doesn’t own the properties, they are owned by private homeowners who would have to agree to providing the housing. Airbnb would have to reimburse them.

This is the second grand gesture by Airbnb in recent times. In March 2020, the company offered up to 100,000 locations for free housing to medical first responders and relief workers during the pandemic. This program for Afghan refugees comes from that “Frontline stays” program for those pandemic workers. Though no time limit was given, Chesky said, “We are planning to support the 20,000 refugees for as long as is needed.”

It’d be a leap of faith for Airbnb hosts. They certainly have to trust the vetting process and the ability of the U.S. government to vouch for them. As we’ve seen during the evacuation, that’s not something so easy to do. The competence of the U.S. government is not looking good these days. I hope both corporations remember to give our American veterans and soldiers first priority.

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