WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 2, 2008) -U.S. Customs and Immigration Services held the first-ever naturalization ceremony for a military spouse stationed overseas at the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany, May 29.

Zita Chouchan, an Army spouse, became one of America's newest citizens after she recited the Oath of Allegiance.

In her letter to USCIS seeking the opportunity to conduct her naturalization process and ceremony overseas, Chouchan said, "I'm very proud ... not everyone has earned the right to be called a military spouse."

In January, President Bush signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 into law. This new law amended portions of the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow certain spouses of servicemembers to naturalize overseas where they are stationed. Previously, these spouses could only naturalize while physically within the United States.

Jonathan Scharfen, acting director of USCIS, presided over the ceremony, which also included 20 soldiers stationed throughout Germany and Kosovo.

"This week, as we observe Memorial Day, we take time to reflect upon the sacrifices our military and their families make to defend the freedoms America offers," he said. "Words cannot express our profound appreciation for the honorable service you provide. You make us proud to be Americans."

The 21 new citizens were born in American Samoa, China, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Great Britain, Grenada, Haiti, Hungary, Israel, Jamaica, Liberia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, the Philippines, Russia, and Togo.