MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Houston recruited the first foreign applicant for commissioned naval service through the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program Aug. 28.
Dr. Octavian R. Adam took the oath of enlistment at NRD Houston after he was deemed qualified for the program.
Born and educated in Romania, Adam graduated from medical school in Bucharest at the age of 26, and moved to the U.S. to work and continue his studies.
Adam has worked in various hospitals around the country and his experiences have influenced his desire to serve.
"Through these experiences I have grown to appreciate and love America in its diversity and history, and I would be honored to serve in the U.S. Navy and provide the best medical care for American men and women who protect this great country," said Adam.
The MAVNI program was authorized by the secretary of Defense in 2008 to allow military services to recruit certain legal aliens whose skills are considered to be vital to the national interest.
"The point of the MAVNI program is citizenship acceleration for individuals with certain medical or linguistic proficiencies who want to serve in the U.S. military," said Lt. David De La Rosa, a Medical Corps Officer recruiter out of NRD Houston. "Normally, it would take four to five years for a person seeking citizenship to get naturalized. We are accelerating this process to within six months."
Non-U.S. citizens have served in the military since the Revolutionary War. Today, about 29,000 non-U.S. citizens serve in uniform and approximately 8,000 legal permanent resident aliens enlist each year.
"He is the first person enlisting through the [MAVNI] program who will be commissioned as a Medical Corps Officer," said Lt. Osmel Alfonso, Navy Recruiting Command's Medical Corps Program manager.
Alfonso has been working with De La Rosa and Adam, providing guidance through the accession process of the program.
According to Alfonso, Adam meets the professional qualifications for serving, and the Navy is currently in the process of making sure that he's qualified for naturalization. His expertise is considered vital to national interest and will greatly benefit the Navy's mission. He is a highly-skilled physician, one experienced with patients who have movement disorders.
"This MAVNI program is allowing us access to a population of health care professionals who normally wouldn't be eligible for commissioning in the Navy," said De La Rosa. "With this population available for recruiting, the Navy can more effectively meet its recruiting goals."
"The dream for every immigrant is to become a citizen of the United States, and there is no greater honor than to naturalize by serving in the U.S. armed forces," said Adam. "The MAVNI program provides that opportunity through its accelerated path towards citizenship."
The MAVNI program ends on Dec. 31, 2009 or when 1,000 non-citizens have been recruited.
For more news from Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnrc/.