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Army combat medic earns U.S. citizenship, plans to continue serving

Two men wearing masks, one in a car, one leaning in the car Spec. Diego Timoteo, an Army Combat Medic at Brooke Army Medical Center, Joint Base San Antonio - Fort Sam Houston, Texas, checks an incoming patient at BAMC’s drive-through COVID-19 testing area. Timoteo, a native of Brazil, recently earned his American citizenship. (U.S. Army photo by Daniel J. Calderón)

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For most people, waking up as an American citizen is just a given – a circumstance of birth. For one soldier assigned to Brooke Army Medical Center at Joint Base San Antonio Fort Sam Houston in Texas, the right to be an American took more than a decade to earn.

Army Spc. Diego Timoteo, a combat medic, was born in Brazil and emigrated to the United States in 2005 with his parents. Since coming to the U.S., his parents opened a business and received their green cards; and he earned bachelor’s degrees in biology and psychology.

Timoteo also realized one of his longtime goals last year when he received his U.S. residency status.

“I’ve always wanted to join the military,” he said. “My father was in the army in Brazil. He was a captain, a doctor,” he said. “I’ve always liked the discipline of the Army. Since the time I decided I wanted to live in the United States and become a citizen, I’ve wanted to join the military because of the similarity to the athlete mentality – how disciplined you have to be, how you have to listen to the people above you, and the work ethic that the Army has. I’ve always thought that is the correct place – the right place for me.”

In 2019, Timoteo joined the U.S. Army, where he earned his 68W – Combat Medic – credentials. He reported to BAMC later that year and started working in their emergency department.

He later took a position in the pediatrics department. When BAMC began putting together the team for the COVID-19 testing area, Timoteo received an invitation to join. For the last several months, he has been working in BAMC’s drive-through COVID-19 screening area to help test and screen beneficiaries.

“He is a hard worker,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Kaufman, an orthopedic technician at BAMC, who serves as the supply non-commissioned officer in charge for the screening area. “He is definitely one of our star people here. He is always willing to help out the other members of our team.”

Timoteo said, “I completely enjoy being out there on the front lines with the people on my team. We all come from different parts of the hospital, but the mission is the same. We work for the good of the unit.”

It was while working in his current role that Timoteo finally received the news he had been waiting to hear for so long.

“I just got my citizenship this month (October),” he said. “It’s something that I always wanted to be – to be an American citizen, and serve in the Army, so I’m very excited.”

Since receiving his citizenship, Timoteo is moving toward his next major goals of becoming a U.S. Army officer. Timoteo said he is putting together a package to be commissioned as an officer, and he plans to pursue further education in psychology. He said his passion is to help others with their mental health issues.

The new U.S. citizen and soldier said he is proud of his accomplishments and looks forward to a long career.

“I’m here for the long haul,” Timoteo said. “I would like to stay in for the whole 20 years. Or, if possible, I’d like to stay longer.”

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