In the midst of all the bad news constantly coming out of the USCIS, it is nice to hear some good news.

Kudos to AILA Member Frances O’Connell Taylor for efforts as part of AILA’s Military Assistance Program in securing the naturalization of Sargent Juan Luis Alcivar this week.

Alcivar, 25, was sworn in as a United States citizen on Friday, some 20 years after coming to the United States, four years after joining the Army, and months after a sniper outside Baghdad, Iraq, shot him in the leg.

At a ceremony at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, Alcivar appeared reserved and soldierly as he took the oath, but he later told reporters he was overjoyed.

“When I was taking the oath, it was like a surreal moment,” Alcivar said. “I was like, ‘Wow, I’m actually becoming a citizen.’ It was great. I’m so happy, I’m speechless. I really can’t say anymore. I’m just happy to be an American.” Watch Alcivar describe why becoming a citizen was important »

The United States was already at war when Alcivar joined.

“I knew what I was getting into,” he said.

“I did it [signed up] because of my country, because I love my country. I’ve been here for 20 years. I love being here. And you know this [citizenship] is just like icing on the cake, basically.”
“If I had went out there and died for my country, that wouldn’t have mattered, because to me, I feel like an American. Like my buddy says, ‘Even though you didn’t have your citizenship, you were an American to me, because you went out there and served with us and you fought with us and you got shot for us.’ And they thanked me for that, and I thanked them for letting me stay here.”

Because of Alcivar’s injuries, the femur in his right leg has been replaced by a metal rod. Alcivar received the Purple Heart and is under the care of the Warrior Transition Brigade at Walter Reed, a unit aimed at overseeing patients’ health, welfare and morale.

“If you gave me the option to do it all over again, knowing that this was going to happen to me, I would still do it,” Alcivar told reporters.

Kudos to you Sargent Alcivar and to AILA member Frances O’Connell Taylor! Chalk one up here for the good guys.