Army charges single mom who refused deployment

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SAVANNAH, Ga. - The Army said Wednesday it has filed criminal charges against a single-mom soldier who refused to deploy to Afghanistan last year, arguing she had no family able to care for her infant son.

Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, a 21-year-old Army cook, could face a prison sentence and a dishonorable discharge if she is convicted by a court-martial. But first, an officer will be appointed to decide if there's enough evidence to try a case against her.

Hutchinson's attorney, Rai Sue Sussman, said she still hopes the case can be settled without a military trial. She said the Army should consider Hutchinson's reason for not deploying overseas - that she was afraid of what would happen to her baby.

"There are other routes if they really want to punish her," Hutchinson's attorney, Rai Sue Sussman, said Wednesday. "I don't think the situation was serious enough to warrant a criminal matter."

Hutchinson of Oakland, Calif., was scheduled to deploy from Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah on Nov. 5. She skipped her unit's flight, saying the only relative she had to take care of her 10-month-old son - her mother - was overwhelmed by the task and backed out a few days before Hutchinson's departure date.

Kevin Larson, a spokesman for Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, said that Hutchinson was charged Tuesday with missing movement - for missing her overseas flight - being absent without leave, dereliction of duty and insubordinate conduct.

The stiffest charge, missing movement, carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a dishonorable discharge.

"The charges against Spc. Hutchinson stem from the fact she didn't do her duty," Larson said. "They know their deployment dates. They have to show up. Otherwise, they have to face the consequences."

Sussman said Hutchinson was at her apartment outside the Army post when her unit deployed, but was in touch with her commanders by phone. The soldier returned to the post about a day later, she said, and was arrested.

Sussman said the soldier was afraid to show up for her overseas flight because one of her superiors had told her she would have to deploy and turn her child over to the state foster care system.

Larson said the Army would not deploy a single parent with no one to care for her child.

The decision to charge Hutchinson was far different than the Army's handling of another recent case involving a military mom.

Lisa Pagan of Davidson, N.C., was granted a discharge after she fought being recalled to the Army, under the military's "individual ready reserve" program, four years after she left active duty.

Pagan reported for duty at Fort Benning in west Georgia last February with her two young children in tow. She argued that her husband traveled for business too often to care for their children alone. While Pagan and her attorney battled the Army through appeals, she was never accused of refusing orders.

The Army requires all single-parent soldiers to submit a care plan for dependent children before they can deploy to a combat zone.

Hutchinson had such a plan - her mother, Angelique Hughes, had agreed to care for the boy. Hughes said she kept the boy for about two weeks in October before deciding she couldn't keep him for a full year.

According to the Defense Department's latest demographic report, there are more than 70,500 single parents on active duty in the U.S. military - about 5 percent of all service members. Nearly half of military single parents are in the Army.

Cases like Hutchinson's, where a conflict between deployment orders and parental duties lead to a prosecution, appear to be rare, said Lory Manning, a retired Navy captain a who studies how military policies affect women for the nonprofit Women's Research and Education Institute.

"There are thousands upon thousands of single parents that have deployed since the war in Afghanistan started," Manning said. "Things don't fall apart that often. Sometimes the family care plan doesn't work for whatever reason, but overall it works well."

Hutchinson's commanders granted her a leave last month so she could spend the holidays at her mother's home in California. Before that, she had been prohibited from leaving the Army post.

Hutchinson, who is assigned to the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, joined the Army in 2007 and had no previous deployments. Sussman said Hutchinson is no longer in a relationship with her son's father.

Hughes said she's already taking care of her ailing mother and sister, as well as a daughter with special needs. She also runs a daycare center at her home, keeping about 14 children during the day.

Hughes said she returned Kamani to his mother in Georgia a few days before her November deployment.

She said they told her daughter's commanders they needed more time to find another family member or close friend to help Hughes care for the boy, but Hutchinson was ordered to deploy on schedule.

Hutchinson's son, Kamani, was placed into custody overnight with a daycare provider on the Army post after she was arrested and jailed briefly in November for skipping her flight. Hutchinson's mother picked up the child a few days later and took him back to her home in California.

Hutchinson is not in custody. Sussman said Wednesday that Hutchinson's son, who had his first birthday this month, returned home with his mother to Georgia after the holidays.

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avidreader
2669
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avidreader 01/14/10 - 06:55 am
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What a wacky world we live

What a wacky world we live in. Why not ask for her to reimburse the taxpayers for her military training and let her go home. Today's armed forces are too politically correct. Women have babies, babies become a burden to mobility, and women will always choose the child over the obligation to serve (which is morally correct). As much as it pains me to say it, why does the military even put themselves in this precarious situation? Wouldn't it be more fruitful to simply not recruit young women? And why did this foolish girl get pregnant at a time when she fully understood the demands of her job? This situation is similar to fourteen-year old girls who have babies, and then return to school expecting the teacher to be sypathetic and offer them an easy way to pass. What a wacky world!

gaspringwater
3
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gaspringwater 01/14/10 - 07:25 am
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Give the lady an

Give the lady an administrative discharge and forget it. One less Army cook in Afghanistan won’t make much difference. Women have a right to serve in the military and they have a moral duty to put their children first.

Martinez
154
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Martinez 01/14/10 - 08:02 am
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What is wrong with this

What is wrong with this picture? She is being charged for abandoning her duties, where is the father? Where are his charges? So what that she doesn't have a relationship with him anymore, he still has a moral obligation to that child. Which is more offensive, a women who can't report to duty to take care of a child or a man who doesn't report to duty as a parent? I say make child abandonment a criminal charge. And yes, I know there are a lot of women out there who completely ignore the value and rights of fathers too. Charge them too if you have to, it's not about the parents, it's about the child.

lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 01/14/10 - 09:00 am
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well since "the baby's daddy"

well since "the baby's daddy" is no where to be forund she can accept the DD or why not put the baby in foster care until she return....she knew whart the requirements were when she signed up...it's time POLITICAL CORRECTNESS is put on the back burner for the sake of my nephew/niece who was ordered and went to iraq...so i say to her ...TOUGH

yak11
0
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yak11 01/14/10 - 09:17 am
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HMMM..she is for all intents

HMMM..she is for all intents and purposes a "piece of military equipment". If she got pregnant after she became a soldier she KNEW this might happen.
In essence she has damaged a piece of military equipment and should be charged as such. OKAY ladies here is the fact. If a soldier gets sunburned where HE cannot perform his duties he is charged for damaging military property.

LEO
0
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LEO 01/14/10 - 09:20 am
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The problem here is that this

The problem here is that this situation is broken to begin with. A priest friend of mine (God rest his soul) used to say that a woman's place is in the home... and so is the man's - meaning, that the family and its stability comes first, above all. It comes above personal freedom or leisure, or career, etc. That being said, the traditional two-parent family structure would have made life easier for this soldier and her child (to state an obvious fact) and allowed her to perform her military duties, as she had signed on for. Society has gotten to the point where it is no longer a stigma to be a single mother, or a deadbeat dad and the lack of personal responsibility has been the cause of many a family dysfunction. Furthermore, the problem is that so many young folks have an entitlement attitude. I've noticed that a lot young women say they want to have a baby, yet afterward, when they find out that raising a human being is not the same as getting a kitten or a puppy, they expect others to help carry the weight. This soldier's situation is unfortunate, though not unique. I hope for the best for her and her child. Hopefully, she'll eventually find a job that is more suitable.

dstewartsr
20388
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dstewartsr 01/14/10 - 09:22 am
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She took the oath. She took

She took the oath. She took the money. She took it on the lam. Case over. Femdykes like NOW should be taking care of her baby; their "it will never happen" response to the military proved as false as both conservative congressmen and leaders of the armed services warned it would. Instead, we still have whiners trying to place the blame on the military instead of where it belongs, on this woman. I have too many male relatives in the services who have had to deploy well before their rotation was up or serving dangerously short-handed because of women in their units becoming pregnant to either avoid deploying or to cut short their tours. As to the whole what about the 'baby daddy?' What about him? Remember, it's "her body, her choice." HER responsibility. Period. Like Barreta said, "If you can't do the time...

wise
1
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wise 01/14/10 - 10:04 am
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Its still a job. At any

Its still a job. At any other job if she did not have child care she would have to call out. If she would have just left her child she would have another charge Child Abandonment. At least she tried to resolve the situation.

InChristLove
21943
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InChristLove 01/14/10 - 10:08 am
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I think a key factor in this

I think a key factor in this situation is that this soldier was told by a supervisor that if she showed up for her deployment with the child, the child would be taken away, put in foster care, and she would have to deploy anyway. If this isn't true then someone gave her misleading information which doesn't justify her actions but is more understandable why she did what she did.

mieshel
3
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mieshel 01/14/10 - 11:24 am
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Fostercare? No way....The

Fostercare? No way....The grandmother should be ashamed of herself. She knew the responsibilities as well as her daughter, she backed out. I'm blessed that my mom took my son without no hesitation. I feel bad for her. My daughter is going into Navy, and if she had a child, I would be by her side.

UncleBill
6
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UncleBill 01/14/10 - 11:42 am
0
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Unfortunately she did not

Unfortunately she did not resolve the situation. In today's Army a great many people are married and/or have children. All are required to have a family action plan as to who will care for the children in their absence. In almost all cases this works well. In this case her plan was not adequate, and she is responsible for her own behivior.

yaya1983
0
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yaya1983 01/14/10 - 12:02 pm
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After been at Hunter/Ft

After been at Hunter/Ft Stewart area for about 3 yrs, I can tell you that 3rd ID leadership is garbage. They dont care about their guys or their families. The person who should be charge are the grandmother and her NCOs for horrible leadership. She should have been put on rear D then once her baby was taking care of , shipped out with another unit. But no one cares, you tell these men and women go fight for our freedoms but oh by the way we will take your child. I bet none of her NCOs would leave their kids in foster care.

KingJames
10
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KingJames 01/14/10 - 12:26 pm
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Her family care plan was just

Her family care plan was just that, a plan. When put into action, it didn't work. She didn't have a plan B. She is at fault for that. For her commanders to tell her to put her child in foster care for a year is deplorable. They should have just left her behind and processed her out of the Army. This is bad press for the Army that could have been avoided.

butler123
0
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butler123 01/14/10 - 01:10 pm
0
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I have to tell you sometimes

I have to tell you sometimes it isn't always the woman's fault. My daughter heard over the summer that they would be deploying in Jan. Then her commander told her that was an untrue rumor, that they were not going to deploy. As a result she and her husband decided to try for their final child. She is due to leave for Afghanistan in early Feb. Hopefully she is not pregnant (waiting test results) or she is afraid they will think she did it on purpose. My daughter doesn't want to leave her two sons, and husband, but she is otherwise looking forward to her deployment.

butler123
0
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butler123 01/14/10 - 01:11 pm
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Incidentally I think the

Incidentally I think the soldier's mother should be ashamed of herself for not stepping up.

fiscallyresponsible
109
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fiscallyresponsible 01/14/10 - 01:18 pm
0
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There seems to be 2 threads

There seems to be 2 threads to this same story going at once. This one and another one with exactly the same article & headline just with the word Breaking in front of it. Augusta Chronicle, could you please stop doing this?

butler123
0
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butler123 01/14/10 - 01:27 pm
0
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I agree, in fact I went to

I agree, in fact I went to the other story by mistake and got perturbed when I didn't see my post. Then realized there were two stories.

redboone80
0
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redboone80 01/14/10 - 08:17 pm
0
0

Doesn't the father of this

Doesn't the father of this baby have a family? As stated a job is a job and she is paid an additional 900-1700.00 a month by the army to have that baby (And it's not child support). She could hire a nanny or leave with extended family/friend. She is just trying to get out of deploying- She needs to grow up

corgimom
19713
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corgimom 01/14/10 - 08:47 pm
0
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Butler, here's how the Army

Butler, here's how the Army works- the only thing you can be sure about in the Army is that you never can be sure about anything. I personally know people that got PCS'd, sold their house, uprooted, moved crosscountry, bought a house in Augusta- then 2 months later got a PCS back to the exact same post that they had left 2 months earlier. You go where the Army wants you to go, when they want you to do it.

butler123
0
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butler123 01/14/10 - 09:06 pm
0
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corgimom, I know how the army

corgimom, I know how the army works. I've been living it for quite a while.

chuckroast2000
0
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chuckroast2000 01/15/10 - 12:26 am
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taking care of other people's

taking care of other people's children regardless if they are relatives can be difficult. there are a lot of factors which come into play when caring for a young child. You have to be patient, need childcare if working, medical support, and may have to give up some of your own freedom. The soldier's mother could have had good intentions to want to care for her daughter's child. When placed in the situation reality could have hit and she realized she was unable to follow through. I just think about how stressed my mom is after looking after my brother's kids. I think grandparents are their for support. If you have children it is your responsibility to take care of them. There are methods to prevent pregnancy if you know you are constantly traveling due to job-related issues.

TakeAstand
13
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TakeAstand 01/15/10 - 01:07 am
0
0

I wonder when she joined,

I wonder when she joined, shes only 21 and the kid is 10 months. If a woman wants a family and can't wait, don't go into the military. Seems as if she did everything wrong and backwards. Should have made sure she didn't get pregnant to start with. I'm sure she knew how much mom had on her plate already, should have made better arragements. Would make one wonder if all of it even childbirth was a ploy to not have to fulfill her duties in the future.

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