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‘A warm hand that helps them to navigate’: Charlotte call center helping transitioning Afghan allies



CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – As Afghan allies make their way to America and others begin the process of settling in the U.S., veterans like Alaya Shank are waiting to help them.

She’s a caseworker with The Independence Fund in Charlotte. Providing helpful resources to veterans and their families. The Independence Fund and Loyal Source launched an Independence Line aimed at helping Afghan allies who helped U.S soldiers in Afghanistan.

“The independence line is here to support the recently relocated allies in the U.S and to help debunk some of the complex systems,” Shank said. “The refugee and asylum systems in themselves are complex and can at times be overwhelming. But after they’re out of the processing centers, after they’re kind of settling, we want to be that warm hand that helps them to navigate.”

The group helps to navigate things like getting a license or purchasing a car. Along with incoming requests for assistance related to housing, food, mental health, health care, clothing, legal assistance and more. It’s a process that can be difficult to understand for someone new to the country.

About 10 experienced clinicians and caseworkers are answering calls remotely across the U.S.

“Afghan allies they served alongside of us and they were really the ones who made sure that we made it home safe to our families and so our programs here at The Independence Fund, they are centered around the whole person around the veteran around the family and recognizing that the family is the first support system,” Shank said.

Since 2007, the group has provided services to hundreds of veterans and their families. Helping them to overcome physical, mental, and emotional wounds incurred in the line of duty. It’s a service Shank says she’s most proud of but wants to get the word out that the mission isn’t over.

“It’s critical to recognize that we’re not in this fight alone, that we are all in it together and the more we fill our ranks and stand alongside of each other, the better success and outcomes for our veterans and for their allies and the families,” Shank said.

The call center will conduct comprehensive assessments and work with our case management team to find the best, quickest services to fill the gaps in the current system and The Independence Line will not turn anyone away. For more information about the group, please click here.

You can also call the center at 1-855-341-5456. They’re open from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m., seven days a week.

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