• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Soldier Mom Refuses Deployment

A sad and not terribly unusual case:

Alexis Hutchinson Soldier Mom PhotoAn Army cook and single mom may face criminal charges after she skipped her deployment flight to Afghanistan because, she said, no one was available to care for her infant son while she was overseas. Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, 21, claims she had no choice but to refuse deployment orders because the only family she had to care for her 10-month-old son — her mother — was overwhelmed by the task, already caring for three other relatives with health problems.

Her civilian attorney, Rai Sue Sussman, said Monday that one of Hutchinson’s superiors told her she would have to deploy anyway and place the child in foster care. “For her it was like, ‘I couldn’t abandon my child,'” Sussman said. “She was really afraid of what would happen, that if she showed up they would send her to Afghanistan anyway and put her son with child protective services.”

Hutchinson, who is from Oakland, Calif., remained confined Monday to the boundaries of Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, 10 days after military police arrested her for skipping her unit’s flight. No charges have been filed, but a spokesman for the Army post said commanders were investigating.

Kevin Larson, a spokesman for Hunter Army Airfield, said he didn’t know what Hutchinson was told by her commanders, but he said the Army would not deploy a single parent who had nobody to care for his or her child. “I don’t know what transpired and the investigation will get to the bottom of it,” Larson said. “If she would have come to the deployment terminal with her child, there’s no question she would not have been deployed.”

My guess is that the Army will be lenient with Hutchinson, likely giving her nonjudicial punishment under Article 15 of the UCMJ.   Her actions were stupid rather than venal and it would be both unjust and a publicity nightmare to put her in jail.  Indeed, the best course of action here would be a hardship discharge.

The broader question is why the Army allows people to draw paychecks and fill unit slots who are essentially permanently non-deployable.  It’s not just single parents, although there are a lot of them in the service.  There are also large numbers of dual-military couples with children, presenting essentially the same issue.  People with ailments that are treatable and allow them to fulfill peacetime duties but not go off to war are allowed to serve as well.  And when their units go off to the fight, they remain behind.

This makes no sense, if one presumes that the primary function of the military is war-fighting rather than job creation or social welfare.  It was an irrational policy in the 1980s, when the U.S. military was mostly a deterrent. It’s simply crazy given the operations tempo of the past two decades.

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. DL says:

    It genesis was liberal feminism, its goal was the further destruction of the family unit. In that, it has succeeded well, and like all liberal constructs, it breeds confusion and disorder,the very diseases that destroys society. This is the real goal of liberalism, that they may remake it under their omnipetent control.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Mithras says:

    Tough for recruitment officers to think about such issues and still hit their numbers.

    And wow, DL, that’s some delusion you got there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Franklin says:

    Spot on post, James.

    And sorry to DL, who apparently thought he’d be top of the totem pole by now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Gustopher says:

    I do wonder if circumstances have changed from when she enlisted, or whether she was never really able to be deployed.

    If circumstances have changed, I would hope that the army is able to find something for her to do on base, rather than discharging her. Once the Obama death panels take care of some of those ill relatives, her mother will likely be able to care for the baby.

    That said, the military should be doing a better job of screening for those who really cannot make the commitment required, particularly for non-specialized soldiers like cooks.

    I would not, however, want to make a blanket argument about deployability — if we have a critical shortage of arabic translators, and lots of documents that can be translated from an army base in the US, adding a non-deployable translator is a good thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Leisureguy says:

    I don’t quite see why the entire military must consist of deployable warriors. There are many jobs in the military that must be done that don’t require deployability or warrior temperament: clerical positions, warehouse positions, cooks, and so on. Maybe those jobs are all filled by civilian employees of the military?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Triumph says:

    My guess is that the Army will be lenient with Hutchinson

    Yes, unfortunately. This is the new “Obama Army” and we are seeing the consequences. First his moselum brethren infiltrate, then attack our soldiers at Ft. Hood–soldiers who can’t defend themselves because Obama’s gun restriction policies make it impossible for 2nd amendment rights to be protected.

    Then, he lets cowardly soldiers push superiors around.

    If Obama exemplified actual leadership, the soldiers would stay in line and terrorist infiltrators–like Hasan–would be kept at bay.

    With Obama’s weakening of the military, the next thing you know the Candadians are going to invade and we will all be eating poutine and playing hockey.

    Obama gets a 4 out of 10 in my book.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Triumph says:

    There are many jobs in the military that must be done that don’t require deployability or warrior temperament: clerical positions, warehouse positions, cooks, and so on.

    Hey, needle-nose–SHE IS A COOK. Read the post.

    What do you think the soldiers do when they get hungry in the rice paddies of Khandahar? Order a Papa John’s?

    Without proper nutrition, our troops are at a disadvantage in the field.

    This is another reason why Hutchinson is a seditious bum–this is an indirect assault on her fellow soldiers since her absence is intended to withhold food from the fighters.

    Of course Obama is more interested in sending food aid to moselum countries like Sudan than he is about making sure that our soldiers don’t die of hunger.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Leisureguy says:

    @Triumph: It’s not just Obama: Bush was a terrible leader, too, as shown by Army Sergeant Hasan Akbar, a Muslim, who attacked fellow troops in Kuwait, killing two and wounding 14 others while Bush was president.

    Of course, if Bush gets a pass on this one, I’d like to know why. Bush got 1 out of 10 in my book.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Leisureguy says:

    @Triumph—Sorry, didn’t include a personal insult in my response to your comment. Is that actually required?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Wayne says:

    The problem with only looking at one case is it doesn’t work for military as a whole. First if a soldier in a deployable unit gets to stay home if they fit a certain criteria it causes many issues. Units sometimes have to be deployed quickly. They have enough to do without having to figure out who can be deployed or not and how to fill the vacated slots. Also the single parent criteria could lead to some getting divorced so their spouse wouldn’t get deployed. This gaming the system hurts moral and problems would go on and on.

    Yes there are jobs at home that don’t need to be done by deployable soldiers. Most of these have been converted to civilian jobs including some base cooks. If that is what she wants she should have gotten out of the military and taken one of those jobs. There are benefits for being in the military but if one take that routes then one needs to take the obligations as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Leisureguy says:

    @Wayne: That makes sense to me. It’s possible, of course, that her non-deployability developed after she enlisted. (For example, her husband died or a divorce occurred.) Note that Army does try to recognize the realities of personal situations:

    Kevin Larson, a spokesman for Hunter Army Airfield, said he didn’t know what Hutchinson was told by her commanders, but he said the Army would not deploy a single parent who had nobody to care for his or her child. “I don’t know what transpired and the investigation will get to the bottom of it,” Larson said. “If she would have come to the deployment terminal with her child, there’s no question she would not have been deployed.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. An Interested Party says:

    It genesis was liberal feminism, its goal was the further destruction of the family unit. In that, it has succeeded well, and like all liberal constructs, it breeds confusion and disorder,the very diseases that destroys society. This is the real goal of liberalism, that they may remake it under their omnipetent [sic] control.

    Wow, Triumph couldn’t do better than this silliness…spoofs are mutating on this blog like a virus…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Franklin says:

    Leisureguy – For future notice, Triumph is a bit of a troll (and a fairly entertaining one at that – after repeated diatribes, he *still* gives Obama a 4 out of 10!). Not sure about DL.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Brett says:

    This makes no sense, if one presumes that the primary function of the military is war-fighting rather than job creation or social welfare. It was an irrational policy in the 1980s, when the U.S. military was mostly a deterrent. It’s simply crazy given the operations tempo of the past two decades.

    How would one go about resolving it, though? Requiring any active-duty soldier who becomes a single-parent to transfer to a non-line-of-combat position, get discharged, or go on Reserve? Requiring one of the parents in a dual-military-parent family to do so?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. gustopher says:

    I don’t quite see why the entire military must consist of deployable warriors. There are many jobs in the military that must be done that don’t require deployability or warrior temperament: clerical positions, warehouse positions, cooks, and so on. Maybe those jobs are all filled by civilian employees of the military?

    Since just about every position that we have on US bases also have to be done in battle at short notice, a non-deployable cook is substantially less valuable than a deployable cook.

    An army cook may be called upon to make omelets under enemy fire, or defend the base, or do guard duty or any number of other jobs.

    And don’t get me started on mercenary fry cooks.

    I think we’ve done a lot of damage to our missions in Iraq and Afghanistan by depending on mercenaries, private security firms, etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. gustopher says:

    How would one go about resolving it, though? Requiring any active-duty soldier who becomes a single-parent to transfer to a non-line-of-combat position, get discharged, or go on Reserve? Requiring one of the parents in a dual-military-parent family to do so?

    If need be.

    Alternately, ensure that that soldiers with dependents have child care lined up in case they are deployed, and that there are timely notifications if the situation changes.

    Far worse than having a soldier be non-deployable is having a soldier be unexpectedly non-deployable.

    If every two months the soldier has to get a signed document from the folks that he or she is going to leave children in the care of, then the soldier will be considering it on a regular basis, and make sure that the superiors actually know how combat ready units are.

    And, if this means that we discover our military is not as combat ready as we expect, it would allow changes in policy — either setting up daycare centers right behind the front lines, or not recruiting single parents, etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. just me says:

    I don’t quite see why the entire military must consist of deployable warriors.

    Because there are a finite number of billets, and if you fill a bunch of them with soldiers who aren’t deployable, you put more burden on the soldiers who can go, by creating a situation where they have to go back sooner, because they need the deployed billets filled.

    Personally, if you can’t be deployed, then you should be discharged, sure it sucks for the soldier, but if you are going to enlist, you need to be able to do all facets of the job, not just the ones that are stateside and come with little risk.

    In the case of this woman, I think they should either give her time to make arrangements (it sounds at least like the original arrangements fell through, and she didn’t have time to work out new ones) or give her the opportunity to apply for a hardship discharge. But I don’t think the army should keep handing her a paycheck, if she can’t be deployed with her unit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Leisureguy says:

    @just me: What you said makes a lot of sense. I concur.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Wayne says:

    Gustopher and Just made many points I was going to.

    Just to add on, the Army usually is pretty good with working with soldiers who come to them with issues and put in some personal effort to rectify the situations. However soldiers who are slackers and constantly gaming the sytems are look down upon. Why put extra effort to help someone when you know they are using you. The soldiers commanders and supervising NCOs would be the best judge of this not some spokesman. Of course there are dickhead commanders to but seldom do you get both OIC and Senior OIC that are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Triumph says:

    Triumph is a bit of a troll (and a fairly entertaining one at that – after repeated diatribes, he *still* gives Obama a 4 out of 10!)

    Listen, if it were up to me I would give Obama a -5, but since Governor Palin gave Barry a 4 on Oprah yesterday, I had to shift my opinion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. just me says:

    However soldiers who are slackers and constantly gaming the sytems are look down upon. Why put extra effort to help someone when you know they are using you. The soldiers commanders and supervising NCOs would be the best judge of this not some spokesman. Of course there are dickhead commanders to but seldom do you get both OIC and Senior OIC that are.

    I think this is also a good point. Right now there isn’t any indication just what kind of soldier this woman was, but if she was a slacker (or perceived as a slacker), I can easily see where her commander didn’t go out of his/her way to make it easy for her, and may be why there wasn’t much effort made to work with her on the problem, but that’s why there is an investigation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Leisureguy says:

    Triumph, you’re back! I asked upstream about your take on Bush as a leader, given that Army Sergeant Hasan Akbar, a Muslim, attacked fellow troops in Kuwait, killing two and wounding 14 others while Bush was president. You wrote:

    If Obama exemplified actual leadership, the soldiers would stay in line and terrorist infiltrators–like Hasan–would be kept at bay.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Wayne says:

    Just me
    True but investigations can be tainted when politics and the MSM get involved.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0