FORT CARSON, Colo. - Fort Carson held its first naturalization ceremony of the year for Soldiers and Family members at Fort Carson\'s Army Community Service Jan. 21. During the ceremony, eight Soldiers and two Family members swore an oath to renounce allegiance to their country of origin and to bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S Constitution and laws. The Soldiers and Family members hailing from eight different countries joined those who have taken part in the military tradition of naturalization which dates back before World War II, said Kate McNeely, immigration coordinator for Fort Carson. "The military naturalization ceremony is highly significant. It is how we show our gratitude to those who defend our nation," said Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Dailey, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson. The naturalization process time varies depending upon each individual's ability to complete the necessary documentation. Spc. Kevin McLay, field artillery surveyor, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., said the process to become an American citizen took approximately 18 months. "I am very excited about becoming a U.S. citizen," said McLay, a former U.K. citizen. "My Family went through the process to become citizens as well, but their process took more time." "As a citizen there are a number of responsibilities that you have to uphold, such as you must swear to defend the Constitution," said Maj. Gen. David G. Perkins, commanding general, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson. "What is unique about your case, the Soldiers, you have already done that. You chose to support and defend the U.S Constitution before you became a citizen." Pfc. Leidy Alvarez, human resources specialist, assigned to 183rd Maintenance Company, 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, said the naturalization process through the military is faster. The entire process took only four months, she said. "I did not expect a ceremony," said Alvarez, a native of Columbia. "I think it was nice of all of the people who came to it. This ceremony was very important to me." McNeely said the Fort Carson ACS hosts a monthly naturalization screening and ceremony. The naturalization process time varies depending upon each individual's ability to complete the necessary documentation. The Denver Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services sends representatives each month to Army Community Service to meet with Soldiers and Family members to review immigration paperwork and confirm filing status, said McNeely. The CIS officers then interview qualified candidates to determine if the immigrants meet the criteria for citizenship, she explained. The interview involves testing each immigrant to ensure they have a good moral character, knowledge of the English language, knowledge of the U.S. government and history, as well as taking an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Upon successful completion of the test, candidates receive their citizenship on the same day.

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