Four Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers - 1st Lt. April Nelson of Viroqua, Master Sgt. Karen Dumke of Waupun, Sgt. Sonia Buchanan of Cottage Grove and Sgt. Kristen Elegeert of De Pere - have returned to the United States following several months in Afghanistan, where they helped Army Rangers and Special Forces Teams interact with Afghan citizens.
The four were graduates of the inaugural Cultural Support Training Course last July, where they learned the basic capabilities to interact and communicate with Afghan women and children - a task deemed locally as culturally inappropriate for traditional Army special operations forces. Nelson, Dumke, Buchanan and Elegeert were among 240 females who signed up for the program. Only 106 were selected for assessment, and 59 of those attended the Cultural Support Team training.
According to Dumke, three of the Wisconsin Soldiers served in western Afghanistan, while Nelson served in southern Afghanistan.
Three of the four expect to begin the weeklong demobilization process March 12 at Fort Bragg, N.C. Buchanan will be one of four Cultural Support Team Soldiers to speak at the Special Operations Command Academic Week in Orlando, Fla., March 14-18; she will demobilize after that.