Enlistees take oath in Times Square
32 future Soldiers, including 16 who enlisted under a new program for non-resident aliens with needed skills, prepare to take the oath of enlistment from GEN George W. Casey outside the Times Square recruiting station April 1, 2009.

NEW YORK-- In the midst of one of the biggest tourist locations in the world, 32 recruits were sworn in by the Army's top military leader today.

Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., Army Chief of Staff, recited the oath to some of America's finest at the Times Square recruiting station.

The group included 16 recruits who are part of the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program. The MAVNI program seeks to give individuals from other countries the opportunity to gain citizenship through joining the U.S. Army. MAVNI allows non-resident aliens who are legally in the United States to enlist. Resident aliens - persons with green cards - have previously been able to enlist in the Army. The program was established on Feb. 23, 2009 and continues until Dec. 31, 2009. The program allows well-qualified men and women with essential language, cultural or technical skills to enlist and possibly gain U.S. citizenship. Although many skill sets are being sought the majority of members chosen thus far possess medical or language skills.

The New York City Recruiting Battalion serves as the pilot program for MAVNI and has authority to enlist applicants under the program's strict guidelines. These guidelines include being in legal immigration status, scoring in the upper half of the Army's qualification test and meeting the Army's height and weight standards. The MAVNI program has enlisted 52 individuals and has more than 2,000 interested applicants.

"The actions of these men and women epitomize the spirit the President called for in his inaugural address," General Casey said.

President Barack Obama spoke of military members being the "Guardians of our liberty (and those who) embody the spirit of service: a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves."

The U.S. Army continues to recruit the finest men and women to embody such values. The newly appointed enlistees will continue to grow in the military family by departing for training in various locations throughout the country.

Page last updated Wed April 1st, 2009 at 17:15