Soldiers take first steps towards Citizenship


LSA ANACONDA, BALAD, Iraq — Sixty-three Soldiers spent the morning of June 28 learning about expedited citizenship application procedures at the Sustainer Indoor Theater here.

Representatives from the Military Police, the Legal Assistance office and the Personnel Services Battalion helped the Soldiers by fingerprinting them and taking their pictures for the application package. The Soldiers were able to verify necessary paperwork and also learn what additional paperwork they need to get copies of in order to become naturalized citizens of the United States.

Military members on active duty are eligible for expedited U.S. citizenship and will soon be able to take advantage of fee exemptions and other conveniences in Fiscal Year 05.

"I'm more a part of the U.S. then my own country," said Sgt. Fernando Lara, 660th Transportation Company, explaining why he came to the class. Lara is originally from Mexico but has been in the U.S. for a long time. He added that it is important for him to become a citizen.

After a Soldier completes an application package, the next step is submitting the package to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service for expedited processing. Processing should take approximately four months said Capt. Marc DeFreyn, a legal assistance officer from the 81st Brigade Combat Team.