2020 grad Jason Hatch’s military and diplomatic expertise put to use helping to rescue vulnerable Afghans ‣ Laurel Ridge Community College
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2020 grad Jason Hatch’s military and diplomatic expertise put to use helping to rescue vulnerable Afghans

Hatch headshot
Jason Hatch preparing to address the Argentine Senate regarding resettling Afghan refugees.

Since graduating from the college in 2020 – he was named the Outstanding Graduate in Art – Jason Hatch has done anything but rest on his laurels. Rather, he has been part of a high-stakes effort to evacuate 1,800 vulnerable refugees out of Afghanistan and resettle them in new countries.

Hatch, who grew up on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, already had an impressive resume when he came to Laurel Ridge in 2018. After graduating from high school, he spent about two decades in the U.S. Army, retiring as a major at Ft. Myer Army Base in Arlington.

He served as the commander of a company in a tank battalion during the invasion of Iraq, and later as a military attaché in sub-Saharan Africa. While serving, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Russian and history from the University of Wyoming, and studied political science at Indiana University. Additionally, Hatch was trained in peace studies and conflict resolution at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center.

After retiring from the Army, he worked on anti-human trafficking efforts and rented a studio in Winchester where he began focusing on creative endeavors – art, writing, and filmmaking, which led to his decision to enroll in Laurel Ridge.

“I was working on a screenplay and painting, but I didn’t have the fundamentals – I had not taken an art class probably since junior high,” Hatch said. “Laurel Ridge had great reviews from some of the local artists in Winchester, specifically professors Clay Walthall and Marion Mercer.”

A large part of his associate degree in fine arts involved writing, and he praised English professors Mary Gearing and Brent Kendrick. Prior to his 2020 graduation, he was the artist-in-residence at Gettysburg National Military Park and read a personal narrative on NPR’s “Incoming.”

Since graduation, Hatch’s life has taken on action-movie proportions. First, there was the entrepreneurship fellowship at Georgetown University, followed by certificate programs at Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“I was ready to launch my tech company in August of 2021,” said Hatch. “I received a call from some veteran friends in Hollywood who asked if I could help them evacuate some Afghan refugees.”

While he hadn’t served in Afghanistan and had little knowledge of the nation and its people, Hatch said he was “deeply ashamed” of the U.S.’s sudden withdrawal of troops.

“I only expected to be involved for a few weeks and planned to introduce the Hollywood veterans to my United Nations contacts, and then get back on track with my business plans,” Hatch said. “Well, it’s now almost three years later, and we’ve evacuated over 1,800 Afghans to four different countries. We raised a little over $7 million, and are in the final phases of the operation. I had to set my business on the shelf and am just now preparing to bring it back out.”

Hatch has been working as the senior intelligence officer and foreign engagement officer with Operation Snow Leopard, which helps evacuate and resettle those most at risk from the Taliban, including journalists, interpreters, lawyers, human rights defenders and female judges. Encrypted dispatches from Hatch and other Operation Snow Leopard members can be heard on The BBC World Service documentary, “Escape from the Taliban.”

Hatch in Bahrain

Jason Hatch at the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s 146th assembly in Bahrain, where he was advocating for Afghan parliamentarians and staff.

As part of this work, Hatch founded and published The Afghan Digest, a daily open-source intelligence brief to inform at-risk Afghans of emerging threats.

“I’ve testified about the Afghans in front of the parliaments of Argentina, as well as at the Inter-Parliamentary Unions general assembly in Bahrain and in the Swiss parliament,” said Hatch. “Along the way, I was knighted by Prince David Bagration Mukhrani of Georgia and have used the Order of the Eagle of Georgia to open doors for Afghans in Europe.”

He added he has been asked to establish rectories of the order in Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Hatch is also on the advisory committee for the National Museum and Center for Service initiative and the Alums Leadership Committee of the Service Year Alliance.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.