SEPTEMBER 3, 2021 – For some service members, it can be hard to see how each individual impacts the mission, especially from their home station. However, a crisis situation can have ways of revealing the bigger picture.
On Aug. 15, 2021, Al Udeid became the main hub for evacuees coming from Afghanistan and was quickly inundated with thousands of people leaving Afghanistan.
As evacuees arrived at the installation, a need for volunteers arose. Senior Airman Jasmyn Farmer, 379th Expeditionary Comptroller Squadron budget analyst, knew she wanted to help people but could not have guessed the impact that she would end up having.
“I was on my way to the hangar to relieve the day shift, when they told me [people were looking for missing family members],” said Farmer. “Pretty soon people started coming up telling us they couldn’t find their family.”
Farmer felt the need to help, however, there was no set process in place to reconnect families who had not arrived together. After bringing up the issue to her leadership, Farmer’s commander supported her in creating a group that was dedicated to reuniting families.
At first, Farmer was the only member of the Lost Family Member Team, but it quickly grew into an eight-person team, working two separate 12 hour shifts.
“Originally, we were going around with a megaphone and a translator,” said Farmer. “But because we have evacuees at multiple locations, we’ve been refining the process and have forms now that people can fill out with details, and we’ve created a log so we can track everything. One person will stay in the office to answer phones, while the others go through the different facilities to help find people. So far, the log has roughly 200 entries, the majority of which we’ve been able to reunite with family.”
Her new temporary role proved to be a far stretch from her typical duties but provided Farmer with opportunities that she said she would not have had otherwise.
“I’ve been working 12 hour shifts for the past week and a half and definitely wasn’t expecting anything like this to happen on this deployment,” said Farmer. “But it’s all about doing what we can to help people, doing our best to make sure that everyone is O.K. and help ease their process.”
Although her deployment wasn’t what she was expecting, Farmer was glad to have the experience.
“I think it’s one thing to see these stories online and, in the news, but actually being here and experiencing it firsthand, it affects you differently,” said Farmer. “Everyone wants to be with their family, and I am very grateful to have the opportunity to help make that happen and have a direct impact on someone’s life.”
Story by Senior Airman Noah Coger
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs