Fort Stewart Associate Becomes U.S. Citizen After Nearly Three Decades of Serving Those Who Serve

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Fort Stewart Warehouse Worker Manuela Hooper became an American citizen on June 8, 27 years after starting her Exchange career.

After 27 years of serving those who serve, Manuela Hooper is an American citizen.

Originally from Nuremburg, Germany, the Fort Stewart warehouse worker moved to the United States in November 1993, having just married an American Soldier stationed at the nearby town of Schwabach, whom she met through a family friend.

In 1995, Hooper began working for the Exchange as a stocker at Fort Hood. The following year, she PCS’ed with her husband to Fort Stewart, where she has remained since and now works at the 4th Infantry Brigade Complex Express.

Hooper said she was moved to become a citizen after seeing her husband, who deployed three times to Iraq, and the Soldiers she’s served at Fort Stewart work so hard to defend their country.

“I see the Soldiers as the heart of America, because they fight for their country, for our freedom,” Hooper said. “I’ve seen firsthand the Soldiers coming in from the field, tired and thirsty from working hard out in the heat. I love my job, because nobody supports the troops like the Exchange does. Like we say, we go where you go.”

Hooper began the process of becoming a citizen in November 2019, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic just a few months later made it difficult to get appointments with the Atlanta U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office.

“I applied online, and then it took me over a year to get an appointment to get an interview,” Hooper said. “I was nervous, because English is not my first language, and even though I’ve been here so long, I was still worried I would come across something I didn’t understand.”

Hooper took the opportunity to squeeze in some extra study time for her citizenship test, with her Exchange teammates helping her prepare for the big day.

“My manager [4th BCT Express Manager Marianne Crouch] supported me the whole way through this experience,” Hooper said. “They were all supportive and amazing. They knew how nervous I was, so they would ask me random civics questions for the test. I was really happy with the support I received from my work, my husband and my family.”

On June 8, Hooper passed the test. She was sworn in as a U.S. citizen the same day.

“We have a Fourth of July fest every year on Fort Stewart, and that was the best Fourth of July ever,” Hooper said. “Everything fell into place so perfectly. When they played the national anthem, I put my hand over my heart and felt it: I’m an American. It was very, very touching to my heart.”

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  1. Lili Gilbert on August 5, 2022 at 2:10 am

    Congratulation on your citizenship, your story is my store…I gain citizenship through marriage to Soldier. As you mentioned, when the national anthem is played, hands on our hearts—we feel a sense of pride and belonging. We service the best customers in the world and lived in the greatest country ever. God bless you my American team worker.

  2. Karen Seigh on August 9, 2022 at 8:16 am

    I can attest to that wonderful feeling. I came to America in 1993 also and have worked for The Exchange for almost 20 years. I finally decided in 2014 with the help of AAFES leadership (General Ward and Mike Howard) that it was time to take the test and become a Citizen of one of the Greatest Countries in the world. I too was nervous because the Civics exam was quite frightening. However, I studied hard and also had the help of my co-workers. It’s quite funny because they too learned a lot from the test, they often mentioned that they didn’t know some of the answers until they actually tested me and learned through testing me. :). I remember the day that I took the Oath, I was overwhelmed with pride and tears as my family and coworkers attended the ceremony to support me. I am so proud to be an American Citizen and proud that I had my Exchange family by my side. My Career at The Exchange was a huge factor in my decision and I will always be grateful to The Exchange.

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