Army Spc. Yamilet Terry, a truck driver with the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division in Kuwait, has escaped improvised explosive devices and performed other actions while serving in the uniform, but she's still not an American citizen.
Her status could change next month when the native of Acapulco, Mexico, goes to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, to become a U.S. Citizen. Terry is among a group of Fort Benning-based soldiers at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, pursuing their citizenship while deployed.
"When I got the word that my application had been approved and that I will be going to Arifjan Sept. 19 to become a U.S. citizen, my roommate and I were so excited," Terry said. "We were screaming and jumping up and down."
Assigned with the 203rd Brigade Support Battalion, Terry started pursuing citizenship before members of the brigade shipped out to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., in March. She thought it would take another year to get the papers filed, but the process will be completed in less than seven months.
Terry, 28, didn't stop pursuing her citizenship after arriving in Kuwait. She was directed to Staff Sgt. Gregory Davis, an intelligence analyst with the 203rd Brigade Support Battalion, to help her fill out the application, take pictures and submit other documents to complete the process.
Terry credits Davis with making a difference in her application. "There are a lot of people out there that don't know that we get help with this in the military, and that it is free," she said.
Davis said he was happy to help Terry. "She is a hard charger and great at her job," he said.
Terry was 8 years old when her family moved from Mexico to Colorado Springs, Colo., where her father received his citizenship and she received a green card. She was inspired to join the Army after her uncle, a sergeant in the Army, visited her family shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and said how much he loved the Army.
Under the Army's Delayed Entry Program, Terry joined the military in February 2004. She completed basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and advanced training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Her first assignment was with the 64th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo. In 2008, she was deployed to Taji, Iraq, where she volunteered for many convoy missions.
On one trip, her Palletized Load System vehicle was struck by three separate IEDs.
"The first one was on the right side of my PLS and it hit us from underneath," she said in an interview with Sgt. Christopher Johnston, a public affairs officer. "The second hit a few inches away from my cab."
The third explosive struck as she was making a delivery.
"It literally felt like we went up and came back down; the doors swung open; we started getting small arms fire," she said.
She was able to drive the vehicle away to safety.
"All I could think was I needed to get back to where my platoon was," Terry said.
For her actions, she received the Army Commendation Medal with Valor Device.
If all goes as scheduled, Terry will be a citizen and able to vote in the November General Election.
"Being able to vote is very important to me," she said. "I believe that every vote counts, and I want my vote to count."