Deployed bankers find work-life balance in Kuwait

November 09, 2018 | GET MORE : Life

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U.S. Bank is committed to supporting veterans and their families.

Deployed U.S. Bankers Marina Her and Laena Rodriguez don’t bring their work home – they bring it to the other side of the world. 

As members of the 147th Financial Management Support Detachment in the U.S. Army deployed to Kuwait, Her and Rodriguez (pictured above on left and right, respectively) are leaning on their banking expertise in service to their country. They manage payroll, savings programs, cash transactions, currency exchange and more. 

“Our missions take us out into the surrounding countries each month to provide financial support services to Soldiers deployed in combat zones that otherwise do not have [financial systems],” said Her who, for example, recently counted $100,000 in cash by hand for deposit as part of her role.

For Rodriguez, while bringing financial acumen abroad made the transition easier, leaving her young daughter behind made it more difficult. 

“Preparing for deployment is kind of hard to explain,” she said. “Most of my preparation was mental, because I have never been away from my daughter, Lily, more than a couple of weeks. Having support from my family, friends and employer helped me get a better peace of mind knowing things would be fine when I left.”

To help with the transition, U.S. Bank provides deployed employees with iPads so they can stay connected with their families. Chairman, President and CEO Andy Cecere (below) also sends a letter to those deployed on Veterans Day, this year writing, “While you’re deployed, we’re thinking of you. Know that your job is ready for you when you return. Your colleagues admire and respect your decision to serve. You’re a valued member of our team, and we’re looking forward to your safe return.”

Andy Cecere speaking at a podium with American flag behind him

On Tuesday, Cecere hosted employee Bridgette Stine, a U.S. Army First Sergeant who recently returned from a tour in the Middle East, as the featured guest for the annual companywide Veterans Day event – which, this year, celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the bank’s Proud to Serve Business Resource Group.

“When I returned home from deployment, I was greeted by my two kids, my fiancé, my extended family… and the regional chapter president of Proud to Serve,” said Stine (below). “Our company promotes a culture of support for those who have served our great country.”

Bridgette Stine speaks at a podium while dressed in U.S. Army uniform

At the event, Stine detailed how the military has shaped her life. Twenty years ago, she enlisted after failing her first semester of college. Today, she holds two master’s degrees earned with honors. In between, Stine said, the military taught confidence, teamwork, self-discipline, leadership and purpose. Simply put, she said, “If not for the military, I would not be me.”

Her and Rodriguez, too, will be returning with a more diverse skill set than they brought with them.

Her sharpens interpersonal skills and nurtures a competitive spirit with nightly volleyball games on the base – recently leading her team to the final. “My mission comes first, so unfortunately I missed out on the championship game.” (Not coincidentally, the team then took second place.)

And Rodriguez has brought new meaning to workplace adaptability. “Not everyone is able to sit behind a desk one day, then jump on a Black Hawk helicopter the next.”

Written by Pat Swanson of U.S. Bank. Photos of Stine and Cecere taken by Justin Yunke and Aranya Thao. Learn more about how the bank supports veterans.