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Honoring Veterans at USCIS: Seoul Field Office Director Ken Sherman

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As we approach Veteran's Day, The Beacon will feature a number of posts honoring those who served. Today, we feature stories authored by two veterans working for USCIS. The first is Ken Sherman, our Field Office Director in Seoul, South Korea. Ken served in the U.S. Air Force from 1986-1990 and writes about growing up in a military family.

My first experience overseas was as a small child when we were stationed at Tainan Air Force Base (AFB), Taiwan from 1968 to 1970. We were at a small base in the southeast of Taiwan. We were cut off from many American things, but we did receive support from our country. The department of defense provided excellent schooling, nice housing, and the military families supported each other. 

Picture of Ken on a plane flying from Kabul, Afghanistan to Bagram AFB, Afghanistan in April 2009
Picture of Ken on a plane flying from Kabul, Afghanistan to Bagram AFB, Afghanistan in April 2009

As children, my brothers and I changed schools every few years. We were constantly losing and making new friends at each new location. Our mothers were having to move households and learn to live in new countries. Our fathers were often on temporary duty away from home. However, it did not feel unusual or strange because all of our friends were dealing with the same things and the military provided so many programs for family members. After we returned from Taiwan, we were stationed one year in New Hampshire and then my father was sent to Vietnam. My mother, myself, and my three brothers moved to a small town in Vermont called South Ryegate. We had very little money and while I did not realize this at the time, my mother must have been very worried about my father. Dad has always stated that he was in one of the safest parts of Vietnam and that except for occasional ill-aimed mortar attack and bomb, it was pretty comfortable.

My mother wrote my father each day and I remember the excitement when we received a letter back from him. Those letters are still in the attic of my parent’s home. Dad also visited us at Christmastime in the middle of his Vietnam tour. I can still remember the excitement when he came back during Christmas. He had dropped from 185 pounds to 155 pounds due to the heat. I do not remember clearly how I felt when he returned to Vietnam after the holidays, but I do remember feeling confused and unsure. One other thing I should note is that my father had to take a second job in Vietnam to help support his family. He worked part time for Western Union in order to make a few more dollars to send back Mom because we no longer had military housing. My father returned safe and sound in summer of 1972. What I took from this is that military members and their families sacrifice to defend our country. As U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents, we have the duty to support members of the military and their family.

I am currently serving as the USCIS Seoul Field Office Director. My area of responsibility is Korea and Japan. Both of these countries have a large number of U.S. military personnel and military family members.  I consider it one of my most important duties to provide them service and support. I have traveled to many bases naturalizing military members, military spouses, and military dependent children. I have also been TDY to Afghanistan, flown on to an aircraft carrier at-sea, traveled to the Philippines assisting with military naturalization.

I think that our agency understands the demands and stresses on military members and strives to assist them.  I enjoy this part of job and appreciate working with an agency dedicated to supporting the military. I think that growing up in a military family probably does make me feel more comfortable dealing with military members and does help me to emphasize with military members and their families. I will miss this work when I rotate back to the states. Military members have protected this country for over two centuries and it is only right that we celebrate their service.