I stopped by McDonald’s this morning to grab some breakfast and the gentleman behind the counter taking the ordered ended up being a former Iraqi interpreter for US forces. He was able to wade through the visa program and had recently arrived here to the US. Most Americans have no idea the critical value that Iraqi interpreters provide – it goes well beyond simple translation. These young men (and few women) are paid very little, are often not allowed to carry weapons, and go into some of the most dangerous places side by side with their American units. Beyond the ability to translate, the interpreter serves as a cultural guide and sometimes diplomat… gently coaching American officers through the nuances of Iraqi culture that are so critical when dealing the local population. Beyond the personal danger the interpreters undergo, there is the very real threat to their family should it be found out that they are supporting coalition forces. In 2007, President Bush expanded the visa program to help bring over interpreters from Iraq to the US in recognition of their service. Navigating the unnecessarily complex visa process is just one of the first hurdles these future US citizens face. If you encounter a former Iraqi interpreter, please keep in mind the great debt our government owes him.