News: Third Army/ARCENT soldiers attain American citizenship
Story by Sgt. Jason Daniels
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Seven soldiers became American citizens at the Third Army/ARCENT Naturalization through Military Service ceremony Sept. 19.
The soldiers from seven different countries took the United States Oath of Citizenship in front of more than 100 Service members and civilians including U.S. Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller.
Brig. Gen. Charles L. Taylor, Third Army/ARCENT Chief of Staff, provided encouragement at the ceremony, where he mentioned to the soldiers being naturalized that we were an Army before we were a nation, as they were soldiers before they were citizens.
“It is a dream for every immigrant to become a citizen, so this something big,” said Spc. Yamilet Terry, 203rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion administrative assistant from Mexico City. Terry and her mother were the last ones in her Family to be naturalized.
“Everybody else had their citizenship except for me and my mom. Now, it is just my mom, so I am going to help her with hers,” said Terry.
It takes approximately 90 to 120 days from the moment a Soldier files to the day they become naturalized, explained Kenneth Ellis, overseas adjudications officer for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office in Rome.
“These soldiers filed their applications stateside, where it went through initial processing,” said Ellis. “Once security checks and other administrative work were done, it was sent overseas to our office where we coordinate with a local point of contact to set up an interview.”
After the interview process, the application is granted which allows the applicant, in this case a soldier, to become an American citizen, Ellis added.
“These soldiers had to make a conscious decision to become American citizens,” said Sgt. Maj. Lonnie Webster, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, operations sergeant major, “And be willing to serve our country in the military.”
For some soldiers, it took less than 90 days to receive their citizenship. Others, it took over two years.
“After two years of going through this process of getting my citizenship, it feels great,” said Philippines native Spc. Ian Desengano, 110th Field Artillery combat medic. “I am speechless. It is an indescribable feeling I have.”
The ceremony concluded with the Pledge of Allegiance and a video presentation from President Barack Obama.
To learn more about the Third Army, visit www.arcent.army.mil or www.facebook.com/PattonsOwn