Army charges single mom who refused deployment

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SAVANNAH, Ga. — The Army 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, RaiSue 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 thanthe 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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55 F-100
1
Points
55 F-100 01/14/10 - 10:57 am
0
0
Where is the sperm donor? Is

Where is the sperm donor? Is he involved in the baby's life? Is he paying child support? Having babies out of wedlock and/or without a solid family support system is almost criminal.

Georgialina
7441
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Georgialina 01/14/10 - 11:03 am
0
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And the whole time she has

And the whole time she has been drawing her full pay off the government's teet. Look she took this job, nobody made her. The military is a way of life that you must agree to before accepting the government's check. It's not like welfare where you sit on your azz and collect a check. You actually have to give something back to get this check. I say discharge her and make her pay back her pay since the first day she went AWOL

Dixieman
14942
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Dixieman 01/14/10 - 11:14 am
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Good. She let down her unit.

Good. She let down her unit.

anotherday
46
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anotherday 01/14/10 - 11:18 am
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Good, she knew the deal. From

Good, she knew the deal. From an female ex-soldier with children.

tdp
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tdp 01/14/10 - 11:44 am
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She should be charged. If

She should be charged. If her mother can take care of 14 kids throughout the day at her home daycare then she can take care of her grandson. This is a simple case of the mother not wanting to be deployed and using her son to avoid it. Charge and convict her!

emergencyfan
0
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emergencyfan 01/14/10 - 12:26 pm
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I don't know what the

I don't know what the circumstances were when she joined. Perhaps the father was still in the picture. It's not like you can quit when your circumstances change. Quite frankly, I wouldn't trust the military to not send me overseas and stick my child into foster care so I don't blame her for not showing up, BUT she needs to be prepared for the consequences. Obviously she is not able to fulfill her military requirements so dishonorably discharge her. What does jail accomplish?

willienelson
5
Points
willienelson 01/14/10 - 12:37 pm
0
0
I agree somewhat with

I agree somewhat with emergency. Dishonorably discharge her, make her pay back all the monies she has received since joining the Army, and wish her well. Why incur more debt to jail her?

fiscallyresponsible
141
Points
fiscallyresponsible 01/14/10 - 12:46 pm
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She signed up voluntarily,

She signed up voluntarily, she knew that deployment was a possibility. It doesn't matter if circumstances have changed, you have to plan for unexpected events to occur in your life. The only thing jail accomplishes is that it is a deterrent to others not to do the same thing. If she gets away with it then others could and probably will follow suit.

LancelotLink
0
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LancelotLink 01/14/10 - 12:51 pm
0
0
I believe the child came

I believe the child came after her enlistment. I'm not gonna fight about this one. She is not fit to deploy, she is not fit to serve. It was not a surprise deployment. She had many options avialable to her to use prior to this fateful decision.

butler123
1
Points
butler123 01/14/10 - 01:29 pm
0
0
Surprise or not some of these

Surprise or not some of these deployments come on pretty suddenly. Her mother said she would take care of the child then changed her mind at the last minute.

CalvinCool
0
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CalvinCool 01/14/10 - 01:32 pm
0
0
No 'baby daddy' in the

No 'baby daddy' in the picture. Why am I not surprised??? Give her a dishonorable , make her pay back any monies she has been paid (note that I did not use 'earned'..) since she refused to ship out and let her and her spawn go on their own way.
Any serving female should despise this type of behaviour.

corgimom
32180
Points
corgimom 01/14/10 - 08:13 pm
0
0
Emergencyfan, because you

Emergencyfan, because you aren't allowed to miss deployments because of "what you think might happen". Because when you miss a deployment, you cause critical problems for your unit. Because you know going into it what you are doing and what the penalty is. The Army doesn't take along extra people in a deployment "just to go along for the ride." She knew the deal. When, when, when will young women learn that having children out of wedlock causes many, many problems, and that it's not a good choice? And "She is not fit to deploy, she is not fit to serve"- I agree with the Chimp, not to be confused with Champ.

corgimom
32180
Points
corgimom 01/14/10 - 08:14 pm
0
0
But here's what I'm

But here's what I'm wondering- the grandmother wouldn't take the grandchild for a deployment, but I bet she takes him when the daughter goes to Ft. Leavenworth. The grandmother and the woman messed up, big time.

corgimom
32180
Points
corgimom 01/14/10 - 08:19 pm
0
0
I just wonder what poor soul,

I just wonder what poor soul, who probably also has children, gets stuck in Afghanistan longer because of that disgraceful so-called "soldier". Here's how the Army works- when you deploy, you are critical to the mission. If you miss a deployment, then the person that you are relieving has to stick around until a replacement is found. The Army doesn't say, "Oh, ok, we'll just work around this, no problem." it doesn't work that way. Or they take a soldier who wasn't scheduled to deploy and force them to go. It involves a lot of innocent people. emergency fan.

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