Yesterday, All Remaining Afghan Nationals Departed the Safe Haven at Fort Pickett in Virginia’s Seventh District
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that the final group of Afghan nationals temporarily housed at Fort Pickett in Nottoway County as part of Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) departed the base.
“When I visited Fort Pickett in September — not long after the arrival of the first evacuees, the experience was surreal. In the heart of Virginia, I saw fear on the faces of Afghan children, families, and those who had protected the lives of American servicemembers. I saw tremendous sadness and confusion, not only for those who were fleeing from the Taliban, but also for those who had fought alongside many of these individuals or their relatives on the front lines of the Global War on Terrorism.
“But in that moment, I also saw the Virginia National Guard’s commitment to our Commonwealth and our country. I saw the same values that have always defined the men and women of the Guard — an unmatched level of professionalism, a tireless work ethic, and an unbreakable patriotism. When called to contribute to Operation Allies Welcome, the Virginia National Guard and its leadership showed what it means to selflessly serve. Fort Pickett’s staff took on a massive logistical challenge, balanced competing missions, and still delivered for thousands in need of safety and shelter — all on short notice. I want to thank them for their dedication and for keeping my office updated about the shifting security and medical needs at the facility. You continue to represent the best of Virginia.
“Yesterday’s departure also reminds us of the compassion we saw from the people of Blackstone and the entire Nottoway community. They should take pride in the role they played and the acts of service they provided to strangers from the other side of the world. However, I know that this mission did not come without tremendous burdens on infrastructure, healthcare systems, and local services — and I will continue pressing the administration for plans to prevent such disruptions from occurring in the future.
“I will keep seeking answers about the challenges this process caused for our National Guard and Active Duty servicemembers, the efficiency of these resettlement efforts, and the strain put on facilities like Fort Pickett and communities like Nottoway. But today, Virginians should be proud of how we came to the aid of those who needed a shot at hope, opportunity, and survival.”
In September 2021, Spanberger visited OAW at Fort Pickett alongside community officials to meet with representatives from the Virginia National Guard, DHS, the U.S. Department of Defense, and Team Rubicon.