SAN DIEGO --
National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed every year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 to commemorate the contributions of Hispanic Americans to the United States of America’s history and culture. A large part of these contributions are made by the honorable men and women of Hispanic descent who earn their naturalization after joining the armed forces in America.
One of these service members is U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Adrian M. Ceballosramirez, an administrative specialist with 12th Marine Corps District, Marine Corps Recruiting Command. Ceballosramirez immigrated to America from Cali, Colombia in 2017 and joined the Marine Corps in Oct. 2019.
It takes at least five years of residency in the United States for a civilian to earn their citizenship; whereas, naturalization is expedited for servicemembers. Previously, an active-duty servicemember must meet a minimum time in service (MTS) requirement of at least six months and a reserve servicemember must meet an MTS requirement of at least one year, but according to MARADMIN 538/20, the MTS requirement has been vacated.
“America is full of opportunity,” Ceballosramirez stated. “It’s a great chance to move forward, and the Marine Corps gives you the chance to be a better person and a better citizen for this country.”
Marines not only put their efforts into winning battles and protecting the Nation, they also strengthen the communities throughout our country, and throughout the world. Through this selfless act of service to our communities, Marines also strengthen their own character and embodiment of the leadership traits and core values that the Marine Corps instills from the very start. These characteristics are consistent with the qualities that Marines like Ceballosramirez, seeking citizenship in America, brings to the Corps and to the Nation. This drive and desire flows smoothly into the beginning steps of speaking with a recruiter about becoming a Marine.
“The recruiters were really helpful,” Ceballosramirez described. “They gave me all the tools and walked step by step with me so I could join the Marine Corps.”
The Marine Corps also gives back to its Marines by providing benefits that many others don’t have the privilege of. College education is something that many people want, but might not have the opportunity to strive for because of economic or environmental factors. Ceballosramirez knew that he wanted to earn a college education in America and that the Marine Corps could help him do it.
“One of the reasons I moved here was for education,” Ceballosramirez said. “Outside of the Marine Corps, there are grants, FAFSA, and student loans, but the Marine Corps offers you even more opportunities not only during your time in service, but also after you get out.”
American citizens have resources available for financial aid to go to college, but a lot of it is expected to be paid back, or still leaves financial burden on the student. One of the many benefits of being a Marine is the aid it provides its servicemembers to go to school. During the time of enlistment, Tuition Assistance pays for a Marine’s college tuition, and even after being honorably discharged, Marines can use either the Post-9/11 GI Bill or the Montgomery GI Bill to assist them in attending college and earning a degree.
Becoming a United States Marine and earning a college education both require an immense amount of self-discipline and drive. These are qualities that Marines of Hispanic descent, who are striving to become citizens of the United States, symbolize and embody in their upstanding actions and efforts. These qualities are what the Marine Corps celebrates and commemorates during National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Despite the admirable values that Hispanic Americans bring to the country and to the Corps, Ceballosramirez humbly explains that, at the end of the day, Marines are Marines. Everybody has their own goals and obstacles to get there, but Marines come together to adapt and overcome as one.
“There’s no difference between Marines who were already citizens before joining the Marine Corps and Marines who become citizens after joining,” Ceballosramirez explained. “We’re all here for a purpose. We all have the capabilities to achieve our goals and overcome our challenges.”
Regardless of each individuals differences; whether it be descent, race, gender, etc., Marines are a family of the few and the proud. Coming together honorably, courageously and committed to the task at hand; Marines defeat their enemies, on and off the battlefield, together.
“Being a Marine means being strong, smart, and highly disciplined,” Ceballosramirez expressed. “We are hard workers and committed to the jobs we’re supposed to do.”
Marines balance an overall fitness of mental, spiritual and physical aspects to get all tasks, big and small, done efficiently and precisely. These skills are engraved into the spirits of Marines and carry on throughout their entire lives. Being a Marine makes someone more than just a warfighter, it makes someone a better person to strengthen their personal life and the lives of people around them in their communities.
“The Marine Corps gives you the tools to be disciplined and punctual, so you can achieve your goals,” Ceballosramirez said. “There is always a way to achieve what you want, and the Marine Corps gives you the options and tools to do so.”
Marines stop at nothing to achieve their goals and win the fight. It’s in their blood and their nature to do so. This is part of the reason why the Marine Corps is strengthened by its Hispanic Marines who become American citizens. The drive that someone has to achieve their goal of becoming a Marine is the same drive that someone has to tackle any other obstacle in the way of what they want.
Hispanic Americans enrich American society with diversity, culture and heritage. Our nation, and especially our military, is strengthened by these diligent, persevering and honorable men and women who become American citizens and integrate their values into our Nation. The Marine Corps honors these efforts by expedited naturalization and celebration of these Marines who defend our country. The American dream is possible and the Marine Corps gives a helping hand to that achievement.
“Becoming a Marine is a hard process, but it’s possible,” Ceballosramirez said. “It’s possible to be in the Marine Corps. It’s possible to become better. It’s important that you believe in yourself, and have purpose and passion for whatever your goal is. Any type of goals you have, the Marine Corps will help you achieve them in some way.”