LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan -- Many people come to America looking for the freedom and prosperity not available to them in their homelands. For Petty Officer 3rd Class Kossi Noameshie, a native of Togo, West Africa, and a corpsman with the Afghan National Civil Order Police 5th Brigade mentor team, becoming an American citizen has meant serving the country he’s adopted by sharing his corpsman expertise in Afghanistan.
In 2006, when Noameshie was 25 years old and living in West Africa, he received news that would change his life completely. “I found out that I had been accepted for American citizenship through a diversification visa,” said Noameshie. “It was like winning the lottery.”
According to the U.S. State Department, they make a total of 50,000 diversification visas available each year to foreigners by way of a lottery. The purpose of the diversity visa lottery program is to increase visas to aliens of countries with a low rate of immigration to the U.S.
“The odds are very small that you will receive one, so I was very surprised when it happened,” Noameshie explained.
Upon arriving in the U.S., Noameshie lived briefly in New York City and Maryland before enlisting in the Navy, in 2007.
“I joined to have steady work and to get educated in the medical field,” said Noameshie.
After completing the basic Navy Corpsman school, Noameshie worked as a labor and delivery assistant at Naval Medical Center, Pensacola, Fla. Recognizing his talent as a corpsman, his superiors recommended him for Field Medical Training Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot, Parris Island, S.C.
“It was sort of a volun-told type situation,” Noameshie said with a grin. “But I was excited for the challenge.”
Noameshie endured the eight-week intensive field corpsman school at Parris Island, overcoming grueling physical and mental challenges designed to push corpsmen to their limits.
“It was good training and very tough,” said Noameshie. “The instructors were tough, but it was for a reason. I felt very confident with the lessons they taught me there.”
Upon completion of the field corpsman school, Noameshie was assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron 271, at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C., and then to Marine Corps Air Station,Yuma, Ariz., for the weapons training instructors.
“I liked my work, but I wanted to serve somewhere my field corpsman training could apply,” said Noameshie.
In April 2011, Noameshie departed on his current deployment to Helmand province. His mission in the provincial capital at Lashkar Gah is to train the Afghan medical staff for the ANCOP’s 5TH Brigade. His primary responsibilities are to teach the Afghan doctors at the ANCOP headquarters, and assess their abilities at practicing medicine.
“The Afghans have done very well,” said Noameshie. “They’re motivated to learn and they take their responsibility seriously.”
When Noameshie has extra time, he gives medical care to local Afghans in the area.
“We try to give them basic care for injuries and illnesses they have,” he explained. “We have a few Afghan locals who work at the compound, and they sometimes injure themselves doing their maintenance work. We try to take care of those who are supporting us.”
Noameshie says he is proud of the mission he has in Afghanistan.
“It can be stressful being out here and being responsible for the health of all the ANCOP soldiers and the Marine mentor team, but I like the experience,” he said. “Overall, I’m proud of the progress the Afghans have made.”
Noameshie also says he is grateful for what the Navy has given him.
“The Navy has allowed me get an education and a career that can support my family and I,” said Noameshie, whose wife is expecting their first child back in Virginia Beach, Va. “The Navy has given me everything I need. I’m looking forward very much to the future.”