By 3rd Sustainment Command Public AffairsMarch 31, 2009
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Spc. Fatima Benasser, an interpreter and translator assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) took the oath of citizenship in a naturalization ceremony at Al Faw Palace, Camp Liberty on March 3.
After all the paperwork and background checks were complete, Benasser found out in mid-February that her dream of American citizenship was about to come true. She went to Baghdad and aced her citizenship interview. On March 3, she participated in the ceremony that officially made her a citizen.
"The ceremony was great and wonderful and I can't tell how happy I felt at that moment," said Benasser. "I'm so proud and really happy."
Spc. Benasser grew up in Sale, Morocco. She loves her country, but wanted something more out of life than her homeland could offer. She came to the U.S. to go to college and that's when she fell in love with her adopted country.
"Living in the States made me want to become a citizen, to be part of that country so I can have more rights, more benefits," Benasser said. "For example, the right to vote and give my opinion."
When she was approached by a recruiter, she jumped at the chance to join the U.S. Army Reserves. She seized an opportunity that is only available in her native Morocco for citizens with college degrees. She also understood that serving in the U.S. military would put her on the fast track to American citizenship.
After basic training, she attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., and earned the military occupational specialty 09L, Interpreter/Translator. Then she was off to Iraq to join the 3d ESC for their current deployment.
Benasser was assigned to the G-3, but is currently working as a translator and interpreter for the 3d ESC public affairs office, where she translates news releases into Arabic and participates in missions that require an Arabic interpreter.
"(Specialist) Benasser is an outstanding Soldier," said Benasser's battle buddy, Spc. Amanda Tucker, a native of Petersburg, Tenn. and a journalist with the 3d ESC. "I couldn't see another person more deserving of receiving her citizenship."
Benasser's co-workers seemed to share that sentiment. They decorated her desk with American flags and red, white and blue paper and gathered in her office to greet her when she returned from Baghdad.
"She was almost to the point of tears," said Tucker. "We were all behind her 100 percent and knew she could do it."
Benasser returned from Baghdad just in time to pack and head to Morocco for her rest and recuperation leave, citizenship certificate in hand.
But that's not the end of the story. While she is excited about the freedoms and benefits that come with being an American citizen, she wants to serve her adopted country as well. She plans to serve another four or five years in the Army Reserves, finish her college degree and get a job working for the U.S. Department of State.
Benasser wants to share the excitement of her citizenship with others and expresses a message to her fellow Americans.
"They should appreciate being American," she says, "because you have more rights to express yourself better without being scared."
And it's that attitude of thankfulness and her goals of service that seem to assure a bright future for Benasser, one of America's newest citizens.
STORY BY SGT 1ST CLASS DAVE MCCLAIN, 3D ESC PUBLIC AFFAIRS
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