DVIDS – News – Soldier from Africa wants to shape healthcare for the Army

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. – For Sgt. Alexander Amoah, his first visit to the US was reminiscent of a scene from the 1993 Disney film Cool Runnings.

“When I first came to the United States, I landed at JFK Airport in New York City in January,” Amoah said. “In my mind I was thinking about the coldest time in Ghana, so I only had two long-sleeved shirts with me. I went back to the airport after opening the door. I’ve never been so cold. In Ghana we only have summer and spring. The weather was a big change.”

Amoah immigrated to the United States in 2013 from Ghana, a small country on the Atlantic coast of Africa. Ghana has about 31 million inhabitants. The NYC metro area itself is more than half that size.

Amoah came to the United States as part of the Electronic Diversity Visa Program. The 1990 Immigration Act introduced the Diversity Visa program, under which 55,000 immigrant visas would be available in an annual lottery. The lottery aims to diversify the immigrant population in the United States by selecting applicants primarily from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States over the past five years.

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“One day, on my way to church, I saw a group of people collecting applications for the program,” Amoah said. “I heard about the program for the first time. I thought it was a scam at first. My friend entered his details and my friend persuaded me to apply. About three to four months later the selection result came and I was selected. I didn’t believe it. It’s not that easy to get to the USA.”

Once selected, Amoah had to go to the US Embassy in Accra, the capital. He went through a medical check and an interview where officers made sure he could speak and write English.

“Up until the day I got my visa, I still didn’t believe it was true,” he said. “I came to the United States just a few weeks later.”

He made the difficult decision of coming without his wife and newborn daughter. He had to come and see how things were, settle down and find a place to live before he brought his family home. He ended up in a US Army recruiting agency and was drafted in November 2013.

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“When I came here, I had to sign up for selective service,” Amoah said. “I had already done national service in Ghana. There you work for 12 months after school in an authority to gain experience. I joined the army, worked hard and then I was able to turn in my wife and daughter from Ghana.”

Amoah is an Automated Logistics Specialist currently assigned to the 15th Military Police Brigade.

“When I saw the recruiter, he told me certain jobs weren’t open to non-US citizens,” Amoah said. “I chose this military career because I felt it would translate well to the civilian world and I thought the opportunities this job offered were interesting.”

His main task in his current job is the non-commissioned officer in the training room.

“I plan and schedule annual training to make sure all employees are up to date in their training,” he said. “I also teach from time to time.”

Amoah has lofty career goals that he believes he can achieve. He completed his Masters in Health Administration in 2019 and started his PhD in Health Administration in March this year. He eventually plans to switch his MOS to health administration and has just been selected for Officer Candidate School. He hopes to become one of the top health administrators in the Army.

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Looking back on the experience, Amoah says he was nervous at first but quickly found his way.

“The US is much bigger than Ghana,” he said. “There are so many more people, but there are programs and policies that help people who weren’t born here to develop and get better.”

Date of recording: 09/23/2022
Release Date: 09/23/2022 09:16
Story ID: 429940

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