Bruce Zielsdorf’s book narrative treks across the globe during the Bosnian holocaust as a teenage soccer star escapes to America and joins the Army. While ultimately fiction, Green Card Soldier embodies the stories of 30,000-plus refugees currently dedicating their careers and lives to the United States’ military.
Set amidst the civil war-ravaged Balkans of the early 1990s, the novel Green Card Soldier fuses fact with fiction to tell the story of Andro Babich, a naïve Bosnian teen soccer star who escapes to America where he earns refugee status, receives a “green card” and joins the U.S. Army – ultimately earning citizenship and a new life.
The author, Bruce Zielsdorf, is a 23-year Air Force veteran and retired Army civilian public affairs specialist. “This is an historic novel based on true events,” Zielsdorf explains. “I’m convinced a lot of people are intrigued by the military’s citizenship program and want to learn more. Andro’s story personifies the tens of thousands of refugees who have served the nation as non-citizens.”
According to the Defense Department, there are currently 30,000-plus non-citizens (about 1.6 percent of the force) serving on active duty. More than 4,100 of these unique Soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in all branches of the U.S. military. On March 21, 2003, Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez – a Guatemalan native and “green card” soldier – was the first U.S. service member killed in the Iraq war.
“Since the Revolutionary War, it’s not been uncommon for refugees to take pride in America and want to show their patriotism by serving,” the author notes. “Although newspaper, magazine and blog coverage of “green card” troops has been extensive, little has been done to tell the story through the heart and mind of a Green Card Soldier. Through this literary voyage, that’s what I attempt to do.”
Immigrants in the Military
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