Queens, NY – A 31 year-old Queens resident who served in Afghanistan as a combat translator became paralyzed from the waist down when the helicopter he was in crashed in the city of Kabul in 2010. Queens resident Jamil Patkik was a linguist with the Navy Seals unit and one of three people who survived the crash, which killed a total of nine troops. After the tragedy, Mr. Patkik faced roadblocks in bringing his wife and four children from Pakistan to Queens, who he desperately wanted by his side. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand helped reunite and secure visas for his family, providing Mr. Patkik the support system he needs to navigate his new life. Mr. Patkik and his family are now transitioning into their daily lives here in Queens.
“It really is meaningful that my wife and children are here with me,” said Jamil Patkik, 33. “When my family is by my side, half the pain is taken away. I have a long journey ahead, but I am so thankful Senator Gillibrand reunited my loved ones to get through these difficult times.”
“Our brave men and women who risked their lives in service to our country deserve the support and care they need,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I thank Mr. Patkik for his heroic service and sacrifice to our country and will continue to assist his family during this time.”
A resident of Flushing, Queens and a U.S. citizen for more than a decade, Mr. Patkik traveled to and from Pakistan to visit his extended family. In 2001, Mr. Patkik met and married his wife in Pakistan.
Mr. Patkik wanted to serve in Afghanistan by helping ground troops communicate with Afghan civilians. As a linguist and civilian contractor through his employer Shee Atika Languages, Mr. Patkik was deployed to Afghanistan three times since 2008, traveling with Navy Seal units on combat missions.
In September 2010, the helicopter Mr. Patkik was riding in crashed in Kabul, leaving him paralyzed and wheelchair-bound. He also suffered a spinal cord injury and a severe concussion. Mr. Patkik filed visa petitions for his family but despite the approval of the petitions by US Citizenship and Immigration Services in March of 2011, his family’s visa applications were held up at the US Embassy in Pakistan. He reached out to Senator Gillibrand for help. After Senator Gillibrand urged the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad to expedite and grant the visas in January 2012, the visas were successfully issued. Mr. Patkik returned to Pakistan to spend time with his family as they made travel arrangements to the U.S. Last month, Mr. Patkik returned to Queens with his family, who are providing the care and support for his critical condition.