If you ask Vanessa Hansen why she joined the Air Force, she'd tell you she felt a need to give back to the country that provided her family with asylum from Nicaragua. She entered the United States when she was 16 years old after her father was arrested by Nicaraguan police. After naturalizing in an asylum ceremony, Hansen decided to give back to her adopted country by entering the U.S. Air Force, where she served for almost six years. She continues to serve her country in the Air Force Reserves.
Hansen has been deployed to Afghanistan three times during Operation Enduring Freedom. As a result, she spent a significant amount of time away from her children. Her son was 6 months old for her first deployment and her daughter was 7 months old for her second deployment. The time Hansen spent serving her country away from her family and her children illustrates the level of sacrifice she was willing to pay to her adopted country.
“I wanted to serve because of my feelings of patriotism to the United States. I wanted to give back to my adoptive country for everything that it did for my family and I when we were granted asylum in the United States,” she said.
Hansen spent a considerable amount of time at her favorite duty station, Hurlburt Field, in Florida. She said she couldn’t have done any of it without the support she received from her family. Her husband of 16 years and her parents were instrumental in caring for her small children while she was serving her country thousands of miles away. Hansen said, “It’s an honor to serve in the military and to defend the Constitution.”
Air Force Tech Sgt. E. Vanessa Hansen
Hansen is currently an immigration services officer. When asked what citizenship means to her, she said “honor and family.” Vanessa Hansen is yet another example of a naturalized citizen who chose to sacrifice and serve her new country, both as a solider and a USCIS employee.
We thank her for her service and honor her on this Veterans Day.