New American in theater
Spc. Karly Cooper
15th SB, Public Affairs
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Soldiers can get their citizenship in theater after applying and waiting six months. For a citizen there is normally a five-year residency requirement to be eligible to obtain citizenship.
Sgt. Jose Mendoza, a supply sergeant with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 15th Brigade Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) has been approved for citizenship and is about to go thru a naturalization ceremony.
“I am excited to be able to do this, becoming a citizen in Iraq makes me very happy and it does seem a little strange considering the circumstances,” said Mendoza.
The Fullerton, Calif., native has been in the Army for eight years now. “There were better opportunities in the Army,” he said.
Since he has been serving in the Army and living in America all his life, “There’s not much of a difference, I’ve been treated like a United States citizen all along,” he said.
Though serving in the Army, not being a United States citizen did have its downfalls.
“I went to Airborne school, graduated, and then I decided I wanted to go to Ranger School but couldn’t go because I wasn’t a U.S. Citizen,” he said.
To start the process off, he submitted a photo and fingerprints for a background check. He went to his brigade legal office to complete the paperwork and an application. His company commander signed a memo stating that he was not flagged or in trouble.
Once the documents were submitted to the Immigration Naturalization Services (INS) the six month wait began.
“I got my letter about six months later and then I got an e-mail from the legal office in Balad,” said Mendoza.
The process includes an interview where the applicant must demonstrate the ability to write and speak a sentence in English and pass a 100-question exam.
Now well into his second deployment, he is happy he took the steps that he needed to get naturalized. “My father wanted me to do this a long time ago, but I procrastinated and really should have done it on my first deployment,” he said.
Now that his time of being an immigrant is at an end, the beginning of a new life as a citizen it is opening up many possibilities. Mendoza plans to one day to join the Special Forces as a weapons sergeant.
“I really don’t reel any different and I considered myself a citizen before but I am very proud,” said Mendoza.
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Sgt. Jose Mendoza from Fullerton, Cali, a supply sergeant with the HHC, 15th BTB, 15th SB, 13th SC (E) has completed the process to becoming a United States Citizen. Mendoza will soon be going through the Naturalization ceremony located at a Logistical Support Area on a local FOB to officially become a citizen. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Karly Cooper, 15th SB, PAO)
Congratulations Sgt. Mendoza! We are very proud of you!