JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
The Afghanistan Homeland Security Service Medal was awarded to a member of the Defense Language Institute English Language Center staff as a token of appreciation for his exceptional meritorious leadership and performance of duty on behalf of the Afghan Ministry of Interior.
Retired Air Force Col. Juan Maurtua, the director of the Afghanistan Student Management Office at DLIELC, was presented with the medal by Afghanistan National Army Maj. Nasrullah Khosti on behalf of the Afghan Ministry of the Interior.
As the director of the Afghan Student Management Office, which was created to provide dedicated support to Afghan students training at DLIELC, Maurtua supports more than 150 students annually, assisting with housing and financial issues and any barriers that would hinder them from completing their courses, he said.
“We help these guys with self-study, mentorship and we try to focus on instilling the importance of what they’re doing,” Maurtua said. “We do whatever we can to help their mission here.”
Students from Afghanistan train at DLIELC and either move on to a specialized training course in the United States, or they return home to rejoin their nation’s military to share what they have learned. During their time here, though, students build connections with members of the student mamagement office.
“He is just like a big brother for the Afghan ministry students when they are at DLI (Defense Language Institute),” said Khosti, an Mi-17 pilot and student of Maurtua. “If anybody has any problem, they go and talk with him.”
Problems, according to Howard Morgan, who also works in the Afghan Student Management Office, can range anywhere from finances and helping work out any issues that my stem from currency exchange from the banks, cultural differences, issues passing or excelling in courses, medical needs and more. The team of four people, including Maurtua, is always there to assist or elevate the issue to someone who can help.
“We try to provide a welcoming environment to the students, so that they know they can come to us with an issue and we can help so they can focus on their mission, which is to complete their course.,” Morgan said. “Martua has been working with us since April of 2011 and he does a fine job of being a leader of this organization, and that is evident both in the award and the positive relationships we have with our students.
“The Afghan students are very happy to have someone as helpful and generous as him,” Khosti said.
Khosti added that Martua’s knowledge of Afghan culture is a big part of what makes him so great.
“I don’t know how, but he completely knows everything about our culture,” said Khosti. “He has inspired us with his devotion to duty, spirit of sacrifice and love for his students,” Khosti said. “His can-do attitude is a model for all to follow.”