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Airman gains U.S. citizenship

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cody Sanders
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Eighteen years after entering the United States, Airman 1st Class Juan Juarez officially became a United States citizen.

Juarez and his mother entered the U.S. from Guatemala via a tourist visa to live with his aunt who was already an American citizen.

“Guatemala is a developing country, so it is really hard to make it over there,” said Airman 1st Class Juan Juarez, 20th Contracting Squadron contract specialist. “My mom and I came to America for better opportunities in life.”

Juarez went on to attend middle and high school in the United States before having to decide what direction he wanted to take his life next.

“I wanted to join the Air Force right out of high school because of all the job opportunities, but unfortunately I couldn’t due to my citizenship status,” said Juarez. “You have to at least be a resident to join the military which didn’t leave many doors open, so I went to college with hopes to revisit the option of joining the Air Force in the future.”

After originally having application issues, Juarez was finally awarded permanent residency and the following month he was in contact with an Air Force recruiter.

The next step for Juarez was to gain U.S. citizenship. After enlisting, he submitted a citizenship request and was granted citizenship eight months later.

“The biggest benefit of Juarez obtaining citizenship is the ability to progress further within his military career. After talking with him, progressing in rank and duty is one of the things he is very adamant about doing,” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Hunter, 20th CONS team lead. “Juarez being able to advance his career helps him gain the abilities and perspectives needed to help train the Airmen that follow him, deploy and even be eligible for special positions within the career field.”

Gaining citizenship benefits both parties involved; he gets opportunities for career advancement and education while the Air Force gains a mission-ready Airman who brings diversity to the team.

“Most other countries' militaries only have that country's nationalities as servicemembers and I think the best asset the U.S. Air Force has is diversity,” said Juarez. “All the different perspectives that various people have based on their respective cultures and past experiences, contributes to the U.S. Air Force being the best in the world.”