Army cook and single mom may face criminal charges

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by Maximus, Nov 17, 2009.

  1. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    Army Cook Says No One Available To Care For Son While She Was Overseas
    RUSS BYNUM, AP Military Writer
    POSTED: Monday, November 16, 2009
    UPDATED: 6:59 am EST November 17, 2009


    SAVANNAH, Ga. -- An 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."


    Hutchinson's son, Kamani, was placed into custody overnight with a daycare provider on the Army post after she was arrested and jailed briefly, Larson said. Hutchinson's mother picked up the child a week ago and took him back to her home in California.


    Hutchinson, who's 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. She said Hutchinson is no longer in a relationship with the father.


    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 Monday she kept the boy for about two weeks in October before deciding she couldn't keep him for a full year.


    Hughes said she's already having to care for 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.


    "This is an infant, and they require 24-hour care," Hughes said. "It was very, very stressful, just too much for me to deal with."


    Hughes said she returned Kamani to his mother in Georgia a few days before her scheduled deployment Nov. 5.


    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.


    Larson, the Army post spokesman, said officials planned to keep Hutchinson in Georgia as investigators gathered facts about the case.


    "Spc. Hutchinson's deployment is halted," Larson said. "There will be no deployment while this situation is ongoing."

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     
  2. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    This is a non-issue. There was a lack of communication and the Army will rectify the situation.

    If this is proven true on the investigation the "superior" will be reprimanded. The Army does not put children of soldiers in foster care.
     
  3. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    You are absolutely correct!

    IF all she said is correct, that "less than brilliant superior" will not like what's coming.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  4. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

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    JAM:
    A non-issue WHAT a soldier refuses to deploy with their unit. and you consider it a non-issue, she joined the military not 7-11. At a minimum she should be charged under the UCMJ and immediately separated from the service with a bad conduct discharge.

    A unit in the final stages of pre-deployment is hectic to say the least, as people are rushing about getting the last minute details taken care of. Poor little Spec wandering around with "I can't go I have to stay with my baby" I imagine she heard quite a few comments as to where to put the baby.

    She could have taken her problem to a chaplain get them involved or any MD at the base hosp. She could have gone to countless sources for assistance and worked the situation out. I don't believe she wanted to work it out. She didn't want to deploy and used the child as a reason not to.

    Single mothers should NOT be in the military...
     
  5. Gen2

    Gen2 Member

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    Her mother granted an interview to our local news. She currently has the baby.

    The single mother did not make the proper preparations thinking there was no way the Army would deploy her with a child in her custody.

    Even Grandma had no interest in caring for this child while her own daughter served her obligation.

    Too many people are going into the military service for a paycheck and benefits, not to actual serve the mission!
     
  6. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    Ouch!

    Let's see where this leads us... Divorce or death of spouse for military couples with children (and no other family) is automatic dishonorable discharge for one of them? Let's not go there.

    And I don't think the chaplin or MD is going to take on the child during deployment, so I am confused as to why you think this would have solved the child without parent problem.

    Now the specialist does have a responsibility to seek help with the deployment situation, given the circumstances and it doesn't sound like she chose a particularly effective means of resolving a communications problem.

    We do not know the circumstances under which this child was brought into the world, nor what else has happened in this family, so it is difficult to assign blame (if there is any).

    Quite frankly, the editors who put this on a newswire are the most irresponsible ones here. They are putting this out there like it is a problem that the military doesn't know how to handle, when in fact it is quite common (unfortunately).

    We don't know what was said between the cook and her superiors other than what the presumably the cook said to the reporter. Could very well be a "failure to communicate".

    Yes, her destiny is a discharge, as she is unable to fufill the duties of her position, due to a lack of a child care plan. The histrionics with regards to the detention et. al. sounds more like a plea for sympathy more than anything else.

    And with a lack of details in the story and just the references to the child being taken away from the mother, it sounds like just another report who wants to bash military life, as opposed to exploring the often complicated situations that commonly arise when troops deploy.

    These stories are very good at getting eyes for advertisements, but hardly serve a positive public purpose.
     
  7. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

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    Goaliedad:
    I believe my convoluted line of thought may have been misinterpreted in places. In order To clarify my intended view on this subject. The discharge in the aforementioned quote was only for the Spec. It would be based upon her inability to perform her assigned duties. The type of discharge would be warranted by the severity of the offense committed, a bad conduct discharge may be excessive. A general discharge under less than honorable conditions may be appropriate that would be determined by the convening authority.

    By going to a Chaplin or an MD she possibly could have gotten her deployment date moved back to give her time to find a solution and they could have provided guidance to her on who to contact for help. I wasn't suggesting that they would provide childcare for a year.
    The moment the spec went UA and missed movement her options became severely limited.

    The media will manipulate a story for the best sales, truth is inconsequential
     
  8. jscam87

    jscam87 Member

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    Too true.
    The story that will never be covered is the soldier who will now deploy with 1 week's notice to cover the "News Darling's" billet. And if the replacement soldier is married and/or with kids, THAT farewell scene also will not be covered. Truth be told, it will probably be a single soldier, and he/she will probably not re-enlist.
    Frustrating to see a story where the guilty person is allowed to say, "The ARMY doesn't care, blah-blah-blah" and it becomes the story headline. Very little will come of this. There are rules in place, but if you have a great news story, well, the rules can NOT be applied. I'm not saying the news is wrong (except for the enormous slant), just that rules work when applied fairly.
     
  9. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    This is actually a very SIMPLE situation. It is not difficult. 1st; all sides need to realize that there was a "Communication" problem. Ok; that's figured out. No harm, no foul. NOW; it is the "Soldier's" responsibility to have her child taken care of, should she be required to deploy. Give her 90 days to make arrangements. Can be her mother; the child's father; other relatives; power of attorney with a trust friend; etc... The army needs to stay up on the situation monthly. Once arrangements are made, she is then scheduled for the next deployment. If she can't find a suitable guardian for her child(ren) by the 90 day point, she is given a "General" discharge.

    As for other soldiers, you ensure that their dependent care packages are current and up to day. At any time, if situations change; such as divorce, death of spouse/parent, death or inability of assigned guardian, etc... to be able to care for the child(ren) should the military member deploy; this change needs to be brought to the attention of their commander. The individual then has 4 months to make "New" arrangements. At which time, they will become eligible for deployment again. If they are not able to find a suitable guardian in the 4 month period, they can apply for an extension. Whatever the final timeline has elapsed; if the military individual has not been able to arrange a guardian, the individual will be separated with a general discharge.

    If such measures are not currently in place, then they should be. I know for a fact, that I had a guardian notice in my deployment file in case I deployed. I also know that if I didn't have an individual to care for my children, should I be required to deploy, then I would not have been allowed to re-enlist, and probably would have faced disciplinary actions. This is NOT a complicated situation.
     
  10. jscam87

    jscam87 Member

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    Like I said, when the rules are applied, there are no problems. In my opinion, if she doesn't deploy on time, there IS harm and it IS foul.
    There is a standard soldier/sailor/airman dependent responsibilty form for deployments. Everyone fills it out. Everyone. No Exceptions. And it is updated. By everyone. I don't think we are going to invent a better system here, unless the idea is giving everyone with a depedent a 90 waiver for deployment will work, which is NOT what CC said, by-the-way, just an example. The communication problem will be discovered soon. Either the AWOL Spec didn't understand the paperwork, she didn't want to deploy and thought this would work (and it is working so far), or one of her superior Officers just didn't check that she had not filled out the paperwork (a near impossibility). If/when they find out she filled out the paperwork fraudulently (also a near impossibility, since situations change) there is a response. If she didn't want to deploy, there is a response. If the paperwork officer made a mistake, he will be crushed and she will deploy.
    I doubt any of these options will happen, since most involve her punishment. They will have to invent a NEW one time option, where she does not deploy and serves without penalty. That is where the morale takes a hit.
    This deployment issue does happen all the time, and it is handled without the press and within the UCMJ. With national coverage, I doubt the system will work as written.
     
  11. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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  12. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    And that is my point. Something that is very common on the forums. We simply "Don't know the entire story". And I make it a point to not judge or convict until I know. My "Scenario" was a "Benefit of the doubt" scenario. It was assuming that maybe she had all the proper arrangements and forms on file. That maybe, because of her mother's situation in taking care of other family members, that this was a last minute "Oh crap, what am I going to do"? Maybe she had arrangements originally with the child's father, and it fell through. It's easy to make opinions when we don't know all the facts. If in fact there are extenuating circumstances, they can give her some time to make "New" arrangements. Then she can deploy in the next cycle. If she can't make new arrangements, then she can be discharged. Things like this happen all the time. Parents get divorced; they still have arrangements for the dependent child and the military member; but then the civilian parent decides differently. There are provisions to allow the military member to make new arrangements. Again; until the entire story is known, opinions are like ........... Everyone's got one.......
     
  13. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

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    More info about spec hutchinson.
    "She believed she couldn't be deployed due to a pre-existing asthma condition" source Rai Sue Sussman, her civilian attorney.

    "Just days prior to her scheduled deployment, Spc hutchinson's commander received information that indicated that she had engaged in misconduct" source Kevin Larson Chief of Public Communications.

    Seems she decided not to deploy quite awhile ago.:unhappy:
     
  14. caroline

    caroline Member

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    This does make me wonder if this was a single father in this same situation what the response would be.
     
  15. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    caroline, let's give it a go...

    This particularly vile act of neglect occurred while the sailor was on a cruise. The babies were left unattended by day strapped in infant seats. The couple could not/would not care for the children but would not allow the mother to put them up for adoption because their pay would be reduced.

    Sailor gets 15 years for starving baby

    The Sailor is married.
    Conclusion - Married men should not be allowed to serve in the Navy! :unhappy:

    (ooooops! Guess we wouldn't have a Navy)
     
  16. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Caroline does bring up a valid question. In our society, there are double standards. Some think it's just against the woman, but that's not entirely true. During a divorce; unless the mother can be proven to be negligent, she will most times always gain custody of the children. No matter what the father wants. And in this situation, a single mother having difficulties finding suitable custodial responsibilities for her children so she can deploy, will probably be dealt with differently than if it was a single father having the same custodial complications.

    I am not defending this woman. She definitely knew the rules. You was required to have arrangements in place in case of deployment. If her commander did not ensure that she had arrangements, then S/He also needs to be disciplined. As does she. But depending on the circumstances, will depend on the discipline. I.e. If she had arrangements, but they changed recently and hasn't had enough time to make new arrangements; that's different than not having arrangements for the last year.
     
  17. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    I am not defending this woman either. I just don't think that we should generalize. There are the excellent and the worst from both sexes and all races.
    We don't really know what happened or what her motives (if any) were. I am sure the investigation would be able to uncover the difference between her facing a true family crisis (i.e. the grandmother backing out at the last minute) and her using the grandmother as an excuse not to fufill her duty.
    She is not the first soldier to have family issues (if that is what this is) or go AWOL and she won't be the last. It's part of the price we pay for having an all volunteer Army.

    BTW - I don't know what the laws are in Wisconsin but back east - joint custody is the norm. In this case it appears the father, for whatever reason, is not in the picture.
     
  18. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    You lost me JAM :confused:
    How is this case even remotely a correlation to the story I posted?

    And...if I had my way, that Sailor (and his wife) would be paying a much higher price in my perfect world.
     
  19. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    I looked up the back story on your news item JAM, and the married man in your story, was deployed at the time of his daughters death, the mother (also in the Navy) is facing a much larger sentence. Both of these people are despicable to me, and the article points out how the mother was completely indifferent when the police were searching her apartment till she found out she was being arrested on Murder 1 charges.

    http://www.wavy.com/dpp/search/Parents_face_new_charges_in_deadly_Child_Neglect_case_713544
     
  20. caroline

    caroline Member

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    JAM ... what a truly horrific story. And sadder still because there was probably a very willing couple available somewhere who would have loved to adopt those two little girls. I hope the twin that survived is healthy and happy.

    Oh, and JAM ... here in FL it's the same ... unless there's abuse it's routinely joint custody. Sole custody is very rare these days even if one parent lives in another state. It may seem to an outsider as if a mother received full custody because the child primarily resides with her, but it's usually joint custody on paper and the couple arrange it to work best for their family. (And if they can't agree, the judge will step in and decide). I have 2 sets of friends who divorced "amicably" (how's that for an oxymoron?) and they have GREAT joint custody arrangements ... both fathers are very present and involved, I see both the mother and father (though not together) at games and school functions and see the kids leave frequently with their fathers. I would hope this is how child custody issues are being resolved in this day and age ... allowing plenty of time for each parent to be a big part of the child's life.

    I also want to clarify that I am not defending this woman at this time as I do not know all of the facts.

    However, just to play devil's advocate :wink: what if it WERE a single father and the facts are all the same, including the assumption that a dependent's plan was filed and had just recently been found to be impossible .... would it play out differently? Already on this thread we've heard that "single mothers should NOT be in the military", but what about single fathers?

    Now, this is JMO. I think that part of the problem lies with the way single mothers are perceived by many people as opposed to single fathers. Very often single mothers are thought of as unwed mothers as if this were an almost derogatory term. This is not always the case. Some women are divorced, some are widowed, some have irresponsible partners who after a divorce or breakup choose not to help support (financially, physically or emotionally) that child. There's not the same connotation for a single father.

    A single father is more often thought of as doing something extraordinary by simply taking full care and custody of his very own child, something many women do every day of their lives without garnering any special attention for being a single mother. A single father often receives such sympathy, empathy and praise for being a single father and that's usually not the case with a single mother. With a single mother it's more of a "you've made your bed, now lie in it" type of attitude. I've never heard the term "unwed father" used to describe a single father in my life. I'm not saying it's not used, just that I've never personally heard it. Anecdotally, I've never been a single parent, but my husband was when we met (the children have since all reached adulthood). And the way he was perceived as a single father (even by me) was entirely different from the way most of my single mother friends were perceived (truthfully, even by me). And he knew it ... and it baffled him ... they were HIS children, he'd say ... why would he be looked at as a great father for simply being a single father?

    So does this double standard carry over into the military, causing someone to look less favorably upon a female Spec who refuses to deploy and put her child in foster care than a male Spec? Maybe.

    JMO, I think a single father would be portrayed as a hero by the press for refusing to deploy and leave his child in foster care effectively abandoning that child. I've read the article posted on this thread as well as several others and this woman doesn't seem to be being portrayed as a hero. It seems like she's just doing what every mother "should" do and not abandon her child.

    Again, these are all just opinions. I rarely post and hope I didn't offend anyone.
     

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