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NEWS | March 22, 2016

U.S. Army medical Soldiers return to their roots in Ghana

By Courtesy Story U.S. Army Africa

ACCRA, Ghana - A mobilized Army Reserve Soldier along with an Active Guard Reserve Soldier returned to their Ghanaian roots during the Medical Training Exercise 16-2 held at the 37 Military Hospital over the course of three weeks from Feb. 3-26. 

First Lt. Frank Goka, a mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Soldier with the 7238 Medical Support Unit assigned to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Texas, as a nurse case manager, participated in MEDRETE 16-2 where he worked as a critical care nurse for the intensive care burn unit.

Sgt. 1st Class Solomon Mensah, an Active Guard Reserve Soldier from the 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support) unit at Fort Gillem, Ga., participated in MEDRETE 16-2 as apart of the command and control team for the exercise and served as a paying agent. 

MEDRETEs enable valuable medical training and experience to U.S. active and reserve component medical personnel. MEDRETE 16-2 allowed U.S. doctors and nurses to train in an austere environment, share medical procedures and build lasting relationships with Ghanaian medical professionals. 

“I’m proud of being apart of this mission,” said Goka. Prior to moving to the U.S. from Ghana in 2004, Goka was trained as a nurse and worked at the 37th Military Hospital for eight years. 

“Coming back to my old fold is a real pleasure,” he said. “The pleasure was reciprocated by the Ghanaian folks here. They were so happy seeing me back home, and coming to partner with them.” 

During MEDRETE 16-2, Goka was instrumental in working alongside Ghanaian nurses, treating a 27-year-old patient who suffered third degree burns covering 60 percent body surface. 

“We shared a whole lot of ideas with Ghanaian medical professionals,” said Goka. “The main objective of this exercise was to build capacity and strengthen the already-existing relationship between the U.S. and Ghanaian Forces, and Ghana as a whole,” he said. 

When asked about his background, with pride Goka stated his family was apart of the Ewe tribe. 

“I’m in the U.S. Army now, but it’s worth tracing my roots in knowing where I come from,” said Goka. “We have a lot of cultural values that we’re proud of.” 

The Ewe tribe, known for their cultural prowess, are also known for their version of the kente cloth, a colorful cloth woven with intricate designs and patterns. 

According to Goka, families from the Ewe tribe take pride in their drumming, dancing, fishing, and farming techniques as well. 

Mensah came to the 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support), Fort Gillem, Georgia, in Sept. 2003 as an AGR soldier. Mensah stated he was originally from Keta, located in the Volta Region of Ghana. 

Mensah, along with the rest of the command and control team for the exercise, Capt. Jatara Young and 1st Lt. Brian Elliott, Army Reserve Soldiers with the 3rd MCDS, presented a shipment of medical supplies to the 37th Military Hospital. 

The replenishment of medical supplies provided by the U.S. Army consisted of syringes, gloves, gauzes, and several other boxes of supplies used by U.S. and Ghanaian doctors during the exercise. 

U.S. Army Africa in coordination with 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support), the 7th Civil Support Command and the U.S. Embassy Ghana, partnered with the Ghanaian Defense Force to bring MEDRETE 16-2 to Ghana in an exercise allowing both militaries to strengthen their medical treatment capabilities and capacities while conducting routine, trauma and surgical procedures. 

MEDRETE 16-2 directly supports Ghanaian counterparts in building partner capacity and enhances the effectiveness of the Ghanaian military by improving the health of the force and mission readiness.