National Guard reservist returns home to Brink's

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Thursday, June 1, 2006

She's only been home since March 4, so Funmilayo Asana, 25, is still readjusting to civilian life after spending a year in Afghanistan with the Army National Guard.
"I'm so used to getting up at 5 a.m., but there's nothing to do here at 5 a.m.," she said, laughing.
She's returned to her job as an operations services specialist at Brink's Home Security.
"Before I left, I notified Brink's and showed my order and all the required paperwork. I knew that my job would be here waiting for me," she said.
Asana is one of 34 Brink's employees (from branches around the country) who've taken military leave since April 1, 2004. Two, including Asana, served in Afghanistan, seven served in Iraq and the rest in the United States.
Brink's provides special services to employees and customers who serve in the military. For customers, Brink's will waive monitoring fees "while they serve in the U.S. Military and are sent into active combat," said Dave Simon, spokesman for Brink's.
Brink's employees who are deployed have their salary met for up to six months, and they cover the salary difference for reservists and National Guard members who serve two-week increments.
Asana was paid her full salary by the military, but had there been a gap, Brink's would have made up the difference, she said.
Asana joined the National Guard in October 2001 because she wanted tuition assistance. "The idea of going to war didn't stop me. I thought that was another good reason to join." Five years later, though, she said she was glad that she was called to serve in the war in Afghanistan instead of the war in Iraq, where the casualty rate is much higher.
Asana served at Camp Salerno, Afghanistan, a Forward Operating Base, or FOB. "There were constantly people passing through our FOB," she said, "for a day or longer depending on how long their mission was going to be for."
Her job was to keep a careful accounting of people coming in and out and maintain the camp. She worked with Afghan civilian contractors and she also ensured that American company Halliburton was "providing food, setting up tents, doing the laundry, and maintaining the latrines," among other tasks that they were contracted to do.
"At first none of us knew what to expect," she said. "We learned that we couldn't do things like flash bright lights at night, but after a couple months, you get used to it," she said.
Two weeks before she was called up, Asana received a bachelor's degree in accounting, thanks to tuition assistance. Now, she's considering graduate work, and will likely start classes in the fall.
"It's just a matter of getting back in the studying mode."