Newsweek news recently named a Saranac Lake native, Deanna Burakowski, among "Women of the World, 150 Fearless Women" for her work with FET Team (Female Engagement Team) in Afghanistan.
Burakowski, of the United States Marine Corps, did her first tour to Afghanistan in 2010. She was stationed at Camp Leatherneck, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
There she learned about a volunteer group called the FET Team, trying to make a difference on the war against terrorism. She wanted nothing more than to be a part of this group and to make a difference.
Saranac Lake native Deanna Burakowski, center, is seen during her tour of duty with the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan.
When she returned to America, she put her name on that list. She was chosen, and started a grueling training schedule in May of 2011. She got to realize her dream and deployed with the team in September 2011, serving in Helmand Province, Marjah of Afghanistan.
The Newsweek article reads: "Women are still prohibited from serving on the front lines of combat but in ongoing conflicts they have been stepping up in unprecedented ways."
In Afghanistan, a program called the FET Team has become what one military spokesperson called a "game changer."
So far, 160 female volunteers have accompanied infantrymen into some of the most dangerous parts of the country, engaging Afghan women and acting as key counterinsurgency support.
The response from Afghans has been tremendous: Both men and women tend to talk more openly to the FET than to male Marines. The project has aided the argument for lifting the ban on women in combat.
Burakowski is now back in the United States, currently serving at the New River Air Station, New River, N.C. She joined the Marines in 2006.
Deanna is the daughter of Suzie Wamsganz of North Carolina and Steven Burakowski of Virginia, granddaughter of Eleanor and Karen Steans of Saranac Lake and Carolyn Burakowski of Plattsburgh. Deanna attended Saranac Lake High School.