Pentagon to recruit aliens on visas - Yahoo! News
AP Exclusive: Pentagon to recruit aliens on visasWASHINGTON – Struggling to find enough doctors, nurses and linguists for the war effort, the Pentagon will temporarily recruit foreigners who have been living in the United States on student and work visas, or with refugee or political asylum status.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has authorized the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps to recruit certain legal residents whose critical medical and language skills are "vital to the national interest," officials said, using for the first time a law passed three years ago.
Though the military previously has taken recruits with green cards seeking permanent residency, Gates' action enables the services to start a one-year pilot program to find up to 1,000 foreigners who have lived in the states legally for at least two years on certain types of temporary visas.
The new recruits into the armed forces would get accelerated treatment in the process toward becoming U.S. citizens in return for serving in the wartime military in the United States or abroad.
"The services are doing a tremendous job of recruiting quality personnel to meet our various missions," sometimes with bonus pay and tuition for medical school, said Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy. But they haven't been able to fill their need for 24,000 doctors, dentists and nurses in the Defense Department.
< font size="3" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The Pentagon's doctor and nurse corps remain 1,000 short of the numbers needed to treat patients, and Carr said he hoped the program would fill the gaps.
The military's most pressing need is for neurosurgeons and dermatologists to treat troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan with brain and burn injuries caused by insurgents' wide use of roadside bombs and suicide bombs.
The force also lacks nurses with a broad range of specialties, Carr said.
It also needs people with special language and cultural skills for a war on terrorism that has taken the armed forces across the globe.
Though the military has been looking for more Arabic speakers and others to help with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the new program looks to recruit speakers of some three dozen languages, including Albanian, Korean, Punjabi, Somali and Turkish.
The effort to find the recruits begins early next year. If there is a need for more recruits in the future, it would take a new authorization, Carr said.
Of the 1,000 new people, at least a third must be medical professionals, Carr said.
"It is exceptional, limited, vital," he said of the effort.
The linguists are to be used in a broad range of military jobs — as infantrymen, seamen and military police. Those with the best language skills would be used in intelligence fields.
The armed forces have used foreigner s since the War of 1812 — over the years some 700,000 have served.
But because of the counterterrorism war begun after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America, President George W. Bush signed an executive order in 2002 making foreigners who join the military eligible to apply immediately for citizenship.
They essentially go to the head of the line among citizenship applicants, having their cases processed in about three years as opposed to the five years it takes others, Carr said.
There are now 29,000 non-citizens in uniform today, Carr said, with about 8,000 more enlisting every year.
He expects that among those who will be interested in the new effort are doctors with work visas who are working at hospitals around the country, a program aimed at tackling shortages among U.S. medical professionals.
The military has never recruited non-green card holders, but a law passed three years ago lets them do so when it is determined to be vital to the national interest.
On Nov. 25, Gates declared that to be the case for the purpose of getting more doctors, nurses and linguists.
Carr stressed that recruits will have to pass the same physical, mental and aptitude tests required of all who join the armed forces.
Health care workers also will have to meet all medical professional criteria to practice, be proficient in English, and agree to enlist either for three years on active duty or six years as reservists.
The linguists/culture experts will have to enlist for four years of active duty service.___
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(This version CORRECTS in 5th graf that the Pentagon needs 24,000 medical professionals, sted that it currently has 24,000.) Minor editing and tightening throughout. ADDS Web link. Moving on general news and financial services.)
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AP Exclusive: Pentagon to recruit aliens on visas - Yahoo! News
Immigrant of the Day: Sergio R. Diaz Varela (Mexico)Our immigrant of the Day is Sergio R. Diaz Varela, who at the age or 21 gave his life for the United States. Born in Mexico, he died on November 24 , 2004 in Ramadi, Iraq and was buried in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Diaz-Varela came to the U.S. from Mexico with his parents in 1991. The family lived in a mobile home park. He grew up and attended high school in Lomita, California. At the time of his death, his mother already had returned to Guadalajara. He joined the Army so he could save enough money to buy her a home.
The 21-year-old infantryman was killed Nov. 24 when a homemade bomb exploded after he got out of a vehicle while on patrol in Ramadi, Iraq, a city west of Baghdad. Diaz-Varela had been in Iraq only a few months.
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Immigrant of the Day: Ming Sun (China)Born in China, Ming Sun, a Private 1st Class in the U.S. Army, was killed in action by small arms fire while on patrol at age 20 on January 9, 2007 in Ramadi, Iraq. He died less than 10 months after he enlisted.
M ing Sun came to the U.S. from China in 1995. He wanted to join the military straight out of high school, but attended community college while waiting for his green card. At Sun's funeral, his parents were presented with papers granting him U.S. citizenship along with a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Ming Sun is believed to be the first Chinese national to be killed in the Iraq war.KJ
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Archive for Sunday, January 28, 2007
Army Pfc. Ming Sun, 20, Cathedral City; killed while on patrol in IraqIf he could have, Ming Sun would have joined the Army soon after he graduated from Cathedral City High School in 2004.“He wanted to do something for his country,” said his father, David. “He loved the military. He wanted to be a man, you know, like a soldier.”But Sun, who came to the United States from China in 1995, wasn’t a citizen and lacked a green card – the proof of legal residency required by the military, his father said.So Sun went to a local community college until his green card was granted. Then, without telling hi s parents, he enlisted in March, requesting the infantry, his father said.“We, both parents, didn’t want him to go,” his father said, speaki ng for himself and his wife, Zhi Feng Liu. “We wanted him to be a scientist.”But Ming Sun launched eagerly into a military whirlwind, his friends recalled. He did his basic training at Ft. Carson, Colo., where in mid-August he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Two months later, he was sent to Iraq, his father said.On Jan. 9, less than 10 months after he enlisted, the 20-year-old private first class was killed when his unit was attacked with small-arms fire while on patrol in Ramadi, west of Baghdad.He is believed to be the first Chinese national to be killed in the Iraq war, his father said.As they grieve, David Sun and his son’s friends wonder if it all didn’t happen too fast.“I don’t think it’s right,” said David Sun, who owns a Chinese buffet-style restaurant in nearby Palm Springs. “They are not trained that muchTristan Reparejo, a friend since junior high school, said he could hear a change in Ming Sun during calls from Iraq.“Maybe the fact that he, or anyone who was sent over there to that specific area, realized how dangerous it was there with that limited amount of training,” Reparejo said.“There are people that serve in the Army for such a long time and nothing happens to them. For someone to be just sent there and in just nine months have it taken away – it’s just unbelievable.”Sun’s friends said they will miss his fun-loving spirit.“He was full of life,” said Brenda Flores, who went to high school with Sun. “He was always smiling.”Flores and others recalled Sun’s passion for fast cars and his devotion to his Mitsubishi Evo. He and his friends formed a car club called J-Spec, for Japanese specifications, and traveled to car races and shows.“We all wanted to get white cars so we could stand out in high school,” said friend Eddie Torno.As teenagers, Sun an d his friends played a computer war game and talked about what it would be like to be in a combat situation.“I guess he was more serious about the whole idea of actually going out there and putting himself in that situation,” Reparejo said.David Sun said he last spoke to his son four days before he died. Ming Sun asked if his father had received some photos he had e-mailed and spoke happily of coming home for two weeks’ vacation in February. “I said, ‘Be careful,’ and he said, ‘OK,’ ” David Sun recalled.At Ming Sun’s funeral Jan. 22, an Army representative presented his parents with the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and documents granting him U.S. citizenship. Sun is buried at Riverside National Cemetery. A tree will be planted in Cathedral City in his honor.In addition to his parents, Sun is survived by a 9-year-old sister, Allison.*Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times