Veterans Day profile: Operation Enduring Freedom veteran Matt Zeller

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As the nation honors military heroes on Veterans Day, is giving veterans a chance to share their stories and experiences.

Matt Zeller is the incredible co-founder of No One Left Behind, an organization dedicated to resettling translators who served alongside Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq. Zeller is also a strong supporter of #DayForTheBrave.

#DayForTheBrave is the first national veteran-focused day of giving, a day to show U.S. troops and veterans appreciation and respect. Around 200 veterans organizations -- including the Wounded Warrior Project, the USO and the Fisher House -- will be working together to raise more than $1 million in just 24 hours for troops. You too can get involved here. Where and when did you serve, and in what position?

Matt Zeller: I served as an embedded combat adviser to the Afghan Army and Police in Ghazni, Afghanistan, in 2008. I was our unit's intelligence officer as well as an adviser to the Afghan forces stationed with us. I trained them to one day be able to replace coalition forces.

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Veterans Day profile: Operation Enduring Freedom veteran Matt Zeller
As heavy smoke rolls out of the stricken USS West Virginia, a small boat rescues a crew member from the water after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 7, 1941 during World War II. Two men can be seen on the superstructure, upper center. The mast of the USS Tennessee is beyond the burning West Virginia. (AP Photo)
A visitor walks past 'Robert Capa 'Soldier taking cover at Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6th 1944' during the 'Life. I grandi fotografi' (Life. The great photographers) exhibition at the auditorium on April 30, 2013 in Rome. The exhibition showing some 150 pictures taken from 1936 when the US magazine Life magazine premiered will be open from May, 1 to August 4, 2013. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY CREDIT OF THE ARTIST, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, on Feb. 23, 1945. Strategically located only 660 miles from Tokyo, the Pacific island became the site of one of the bloodiest, most famous battles of World War II against Japan. (AP Photo/Joe Rosenthal)
In this photo provided by the U.S. navy, a sailor and a nurse kiss passionately in Manhattan's Times Square, as New York City celebrates the end of World War II, on August 14, 1945. The celebration followed the official announcement that Japan had accepted the terms of Potsdam and surrendered. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy/Victor Jorgensen)
Pfc. Clarence K. Ayers of Evansville, Ind., reads the news of V-E Day as newly arrived German prisoners stand of a New York City pier, May 8, 1945. (AP Photo/John Rooney)
The torch of the Statue of Liberty blazes in the night as the lights are turned on once again at the island in New York Harbor, May 8, 1945, V-E Day, on which the official announcement of the unconditional surrender of Germany was proclaimed. Two service men stand guard at the base of the statue. (AP Photo/Tom Fitzsimmons)
The first bombs from the first a squadron over a 21 sq. mile area west of the Naktong River, South Korea on August 16, 1950 where North Korean troops were believed massing for an all-out assault on the American lines. 98 B-29âs dropped more than 850 tons of bombs on the area. A salovo of 500-pound bombs leave the bomb bay of a B-29 headed for communist-controlled territory below. The superforts smacked a 21 sq. mile area where Army said as many as 40, 000 Red troops were gathered first. (AP Photo)
Invasion of Inchon, September 15, 1950, Korean War, Washington, National Archives. (Photo by Photo12/UIG/Getty Images)
This view shows a command post somewhere in South Korea on July 12, 1950 as American soldiers keep on the alert with their straw covered camouflaged weapons carrier. (AP Photo/Charles P. Gorry)
In this image provided by the U.S. Army, Koreans carry liberated American prisoners down from the hills northeast of Seoul after their location by the 25th Division tanks, April 2, 1951. Carried in foreground is PFC. Ellis Wadley of Leachville, Ark., who had been held captive since New Year's Day. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)
The Reverend Thich Quang Duc, a 73-year-old Buddhist monk, is soaked in petrol before setting fire to himself and burning to death in front of thousands of onlookers at a main highway intersection in Saigon, Vietnam, June 11, 1963. He had previously announced that he would commit suicide in protest against what he called government persecution of Buddhists. (AP Photo/Malcolm Browne).
In this April 10, 1965, file photo, made by Associated Press correspondent Peter Arnett, newly-landed U.S. Marines make their way through the sands of Red Beach at Da Nang, Vietnam on their way to reinforce the air base as South Vietnamese Rangers battled guerrillas about three miles south of the beach. (AP Photo/Peter Arnett, File)
In this March 1965 file photo shot by Associated Press photographer Horst Faas, hovering U.S. Army helicopters pour machine gun fire into the tree line to cover the advance of South Vietnamese ground troops in an attack on a Viet Cong camp 18 miles north of Tay Ninh, Vietnam, northwest of Saigon near the Cambodian border. (AP Photo/Horst Faas, File)
The sun breaks through the dense jungle foliage around the embattled town of Binh Gia, 40 miles east of Saigon, in early January 1965, as South Vietnamese troops, apparently joined by U.S. advisers, rest after a cold, damp and tense night of waiting in an ambush position for a Viet Cong attack that didn't come. One hour later, as the possibility of an overnight attack by the Viet Cong disappeared, the troops moved out for another long, hot day hunting the elusive communist guerrillas in the jungles. (AP Photo/Horst Faas)
Pfc. Michael Row of Hyattsville, Md., a medic wounded by a grazing wound to the head, crouches along a treeline with other members of his U.S. 1st Cavalry Division unit while under intense North Vietnamese fire in March 1967, near Bong Son, along the South Vietnamese coast. Despite his own wound and incoming fire, Row scrambled to treat fellow wounded. One member of the unit said "He seemed to be everywhere." In background, a sargeant commands a reconnaissance team of the 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry. (AP Photo/Dana Stone)
The body of an American paratrooper killed in action in the jungle near the Cambodian border is raised up to an evacuation helicopter in War Zone C, Vietnam, May 14, 1966. (AP Photo/Henri Huet)
FILE - In this Feb. 1, 1968 file photo, Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan, South Vietnamese chief of the national police, fires his pistol into the head of suspected Viet Cong official Nguyen Van Lem on a Saigon street early in the Tet Offensive. Photographer Eddie Adams reported that after the shooting, Loan approached him and said, âThey killed many of my people, and yours too,â then walked away. (AP Photo/Eddie Adams, File)
Mary Ann Vecchio gestures and screams as she kneels by the body of a student lying face down on the campus of Kent State University, Kent, Ohio on May 4, 1970. National Guardsmen had fired into a crowd of demonstrators, killing four. (AP Photo/John Filo)
FILE - In this Dec. 18, 1971 file photo, guerrillas in Dacca, Bangladesh use bayonets to torture and kill four men suspected of collaborating with Pakistani militiamen who had been accused of murder, rape and looting during months of civil war. (AP Photo/Horst Faas, Michel Laurent, File)
FILE - In this June 8, 1972, file photo, 9-year-old Kim Phuc, center, runs with her brothers and cousins, followed by South Vietnamese forces, down Route 1 near Trang Bang after a South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on its own troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing. In late September 2015, Phuc, 52, began a series of laser treatments at the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute to smooth and soften the pale, thick scar tissue that she has endured for more than 40 years. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)
Released prisoner of war Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm is greeted by his family at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif., as he returns home from the Vietnam War, March 17, 1973. In the lead is Stirm's daughter Lori, 15; followed by son Robert, 14; daughter Cynthia, 11; wife Loretta and son Roger, 12. (AP Photo/Sal Veder)
The sky lights up as the British frigate HMS Antelope explodes in San Carlos Bay in the Falkland Islands, May 25, 1982. The 10-week Falklands War killed 712 Argentines, 255 Britons and three islanders. (AP Photo/Martin Cleaver)
FILE - In this June 5, 1989 file photo, a Chinese man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east on Beijing's Cangan Blvd. in Tiananmen Square. The man, calling for an end to the recent violence and bloodshed against pro-democracy demonstrators, was pulled away by bystanders, and the tanks continued on their way. The Chinese government crushed a student-led demonstration for democratic reform and against government corruption, killing hundreds, or perhaps thousands of demonstrators in the strongest anti-government protest since the 1949 revolution. Ironically, the name Tiananmen means "Gate of Heavenly Peace". (AP Photo/Jeff Widener, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 10, 1992 file photo, a father's hands press against the window of a bus carrying his tearful son and wife to safety from the besieged city of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. More than 1,000 women, children and the elderly who had endured months of seige were allowed to leave the city on Red Cross buses, breaking apart many families. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours, File)
Plumes of smoke pour from the World Trade Center buildings in New York Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. Planes crashed into the upper floors of both World Trade Center towers minutes apart Tuesday in a horrific scene of explosions and fires that lead to the collapse of the 110-story buildings. The Empire State building is seen in the foreground. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison)
A person falls from the north tower of New York's World Trade Center in this Sept. 11, 2001 file photo, after terrorists crashed two hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center and brought down the twin 110-story towers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File
Firefighters make their way through the rubble after two airliners crashed into the World Trade Center in New York bringing down the landmark buildings Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Shawn Baldwin)
This 11 September 2001 file photo shows Marcy Borders covered in dust as she takes refuge in an office building after one of the World Trade Center towers collapsed in New York. Borders was caught outside on the street as the cloud of smoke and dust enveloped the area. The woman was caught outside on the street as the cloud of smoke and dust enveloped the area. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
A British Royal Marine from 42 Commando fires a Milan wire-guided missile at an Iraqi position on the Al Faw peninsula, southern Iraq, Friday, March 21, 2003. (AP Photo/Jon Mills, pool)
A U.S. Marine watches a statue of Saddam Hussein being toppled in Firdaus Square, in downtown Bagdhad in this April 9, 2003 file photo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)
In this May 1, 2003 file photo, President George W. Bush speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast. As slogans go, President Barack Obama's promise of the "light of a new day" in Afghanistan isn't as catchy as the "Mission Accomplished" banner that hung across the USS Abraham Lincoln the day President George W. Bush announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
FILE - This late 2003 file image obtained by The Associated Press shows an unidentified detainee standing on a box with a bag on his head and wires attached to him, at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. (AP Photo, File)
Captured former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein undergoes medical examinations in Baghdad in this Dec. 14, 2003 file photo, in this image from television. (AP Photo/US Military via APTN, File)
FILE - In this March 31, 2004 file photo, Iraqis chant anti-American slogans as charred bodies hang from a bridge over the Euphrates River in Fallujah, west of Baghdad. The private security company Blackwater USA triggered a major battle in the Iraq war in 2004 by sending an unprepared team of guards into the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, a move that led to their horrific deaths and a violent response by U.S. forces, according to a congressional report. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, FIle)
DEH AFGHAN, AFGHANISTAN - JUNE 27: Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion 4th Infantry Regiment do morning exercises at a U.S. base at Deh Afghan June 27, 2006 in the Zabul province of southern Afghanistan. The troops are participating in Operation Mountain Thrust against Taliban fighters across southern Afghanistan. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
AFGHANISTAN PAKISTAN BORDER, AFGHANISTAN - OCTOBER 20: An American soldier holds a U.S. Army hand grenade on which a soldier wrote 'One free trip to Allah' while at an observation post in the Paktika province of Afghanistan Oct. 20, 2006 overlooking the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The outpost, only 800 meters from the Pakistan, is frequently attacked by Taliban forces, many of whom cross over from the South Waziristan tribal area of Pakistan, according to American soldiers. Most Taliban believe they are fighting a holy war or 'jihad' against non-Muslims in Afghanistan, and those who die in jihad are promised an eternity in paradise. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
PAKTIKA PROVINCE, PAKTIKA - OCTOBER 15: US Army soldiers in the 1/501st of the 25th Infantry Division shield their eyes from the powerful rotor wash of a Chinook cargo helicopter as they are picked up from a mission October 15, 2009 in Paktika Province, Afghanistan. Soldiers of the 1/501 scoured the Afghan countryside near the Pakistani border on a two-day mission into a tense part of Paktika province, an that American soldiers had not patroled for over three years. The troops were looking for suspected Taliban weapons stores and hideouts. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
In this May 1, 2011 file image released by the White House and digitally altered by the source to diffuse the paper in front of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/The White House, Pete Souza, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2012 file photo, a Syrian man cries while holding the body of his son near Dar El Shifa hospital in Aleppo, Syria. The boy was killed by the Syrian army. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo, FIle)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - JUNE 09: An injured Syrian man is carried on a stretcher by emergency staff after a barrel bomb attack dropped by Syrian regime forces on a bakery in Ansari neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria on June 09, 2015. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A Syrian refugee carries a baby over the broken border fence into Turkey after breaking the border fence and crossing from Syria in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Sunday, June 14, 2015. The mass displacement of Syrians across the border into Turkey comes as Kurdish fighters and Islamic extremists clashed in nearby city of Tal Abyad. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of a migrant child after a number of migrants died and a smaller number were reported missing after boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized, near the Turkish resort of Bodrum early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (AP Photo/DHA)
HIDE CAPTION Why did you join the U.S. military?

Matt Zeller: I joined because of 9/11. My family has been in America for nine generations. I've had a relative fight in just about every war going back to the War for Independence. In my closet hangs my grandfather's World War II Navy uniform, my great-grandfather's World War I Army uniform and my great-great-great-great-grandfather's Union Army uniform that he wore at Gettysburg during the Civil War. Service wasn't just a civic duty, it was a familial obligation. 9/11 was my generation's Pearl Harbor and I felt bound to do what so many in my family had done before me -- answer my country's call to service during its hour of need. What does it mean to you to have served in the U.S. military?

Matt Zeller: Serving means more than I can adequately put into words. It means I can look at my daughter and know I did what I was supposed to do as a citizen to ensure her freedom and liberty. It will be the highest honor of my life. What did you gain from serving in the military and what did you have to give up?

Matt Zeller: I gained leadership, a profound understanding of what it means to be loyal and honorable, and a great deal about how the real world works. I learned just how blessed Americans are compared to so many others in the world. I gave up a "normal" early adulthood. While my friends from college made fortunes on Wall Street or procured power in government, I was training or deployed on the front lines, my "life" seemingly on hold until we completed our mission and made America safe. What do most people forget or overlook about the men and women serving in the military?

Matt Zeller: I learned just how diverse we all are. There is no stereotypical solider, sailor, airman or marine. What we all have in common is a profound love for our country and a desire to serve it and its people. What are you doing today and how did your service help you?

Matt Zeller: I am alive today because my Afghan translator, Janis, saved my life in a firefight in 2008. He killed two Taliban fighters who were about to kill me. The Taliban responded by placing Janis on the top of their publicized kill list. After a multi-year struggle, I secured visas for Janis and his family to immigrate to the United States. Together we founded, No One Left Behind, the only organization in America dedicated to resettling the translators who served with us in Afghanistan and Iraq. My service taught me the importance of keeping a promise. We promised all the translators who served with us that if they gave us a year of "honorable and valuable service" and found themselves in duress because of that service, so long as they could pass a national security background investigation, we would bring them and their immediate families to the U.S. Our foundation exists to ensure we keep America's promise. In our two years of existence, we've expanded operations into nine U.S. cities and are on pace to help resettle 1,000 people this year.
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