CHICAGO (CBS) — Even though the last U.S. military planes have left Afghanistan, one Chicagoan is leading the charge to get more people out.
As CBS 2’s Jim Williams reported Monday, Keith Alaniz he feels a deeply personal obligation to the people in Afghanistan.READ MORE: 'An Important Time For Us': Chicagoans Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
The messages come at all hours of the day and night – pleas for help.
One read, “The Taliban has warned our family that they will kill those who have worked with foreigners.” Another read: “Help me, help me. The Taliban will kill me.”
Alaniz, a Chicago entrepreneur, cannot turn his back on his friends in Afghanistan – where he served for years as a United States Army captain.
Friends, colleagues, and protectors are now trapped.
“These are the same people who while I was in Afghanistan, looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘I’m going to not let any harm come to you before it comes through me’ – and they put their own personal safety on the line to protect me,” Alaniz said.
He is thinking of a district police chief.
“In his capacity as a police chief, he arrested some people who are now in charge – and so now, they’re hunting him and he’s in hiding,” Alaniz said.READ MORE: Downtown Chicago Roadblocks Quell Mexican Independence Day Street Celebrations
Every day, Alaniz says he hears from the same friends – hundreds of messages – and when two days pass and he doesn’t hear from one, he’s alarmed.
Alaniz and thousands of other American veterans of the Afghanistan War are joining forces – pressuring the United States government to do more to get the people they call their partners out of the country.
“There are hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan who believed in our mission; that put their lives on the line, who are in imminent danger,” Alaniz said.
Meanwhile, Arezu Thakur – who until this year lived in Chicago – worries about her family in Afghanistan where she served an interpreter for the United States.
“The things are getting worse and worse. Borders are closed,” Thakur said. “Everybody knows I worked for the U.S. government. Everybody know what stance I took at that point when they needed me.”
And because they know her relationship with the U.S. Army and the work she did, she fears her family will be targeted.
It all inspires Alaniz to take on a new mission.
“I’m going to continue to try my best, and I will – and other veterans like me will continue to try our best – for as long as it takes to get them out of Afghanistan,” he said.MORE NEWS: 'We're Back': Store Owner Reopens Chicago Sports On Michigan Avenue After 2020 Unrest
The retired captain and his fellow veterans are writing and calling government officials, urging them to expand the humanitarian visa program.