As Lapid became a better Sailor and gained traction in her new career, she learned about the many opportunities afforded to her as a service member, one being the chance to obtain U.S. citizenship.
In fact, since Oct. 1, 2001, the Department of Defense has worked with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to naturalize more than 118,000 members of the U.S. armed forces.
"Back then, you had to wait three years from the day you joined before you could apply for citizenship," said Lapid. "I waited a bit longer because in my third year of service, I was in Basic X-ray School and had follow-on orders to Field Medical Service School, so I wasn't able to process my citizenship.
"I remember saving up for the fees and passport applications," she continued. "I asked the people from my command to help me fill out my application. I am forever grateful to those who took the time in assisting me."
Today, she's paying it forward by advising others going through the process.
"Becoming a U.S. citizen meant that even though I had been serving in the Navy for about four years at the time, it was finally official," said Lapid. "When I was offered the opportunity to help other Sailors, I signed up to assist them in getting their citizenship by reviewing their forms, and also to be there to provide additional information they'd need to complete the process. I know that obtaining their citizenship means a lot to them, just like it did to me."
Editor's Note: For more information on obtaining citizenship through the U.S. armed forces, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. Also, click here to visit another story of a Sailor who gained their citizenship.