Deployment > What happens to the children?

Written by Janet

Whenever both parents, or single, report for duty, who takes care of the children left behind?  A good example is the case of Lisa Pagan.  Four years ago, she was honorably discharged from the army, but this time, when she reports, she will arrive with more than just her old uniform, she will have her kids too.

She is among thousands of former service members who who have left active duty since the Sept. 11 attacks, only to later receive orders to return to service. They’re not in training, they’re not getting a Defense Department salary, but as long as they have time left on their original enlistment contracts, they’re on “individual ready reserve” status – eligible to be recalled at any time.

Now soldiers can appeal and some have won permission to remain in civilian life.  In Pagan’s case, she filed numerous appeals, and all were denied.  She argued because her husband travels for business,  there’s no one else to take care of the kids.  She is left with two options, abandon her children, or refusing to deploy and face charges.

Then she hit on the idea of showing up Sunday at Fort Benning, Ga., with her children in tow. She stated > “I guess they’ll have to contact the highest person at the base, and they’ll have to decide from there what to do,” Pagan said. “I either report and bring the children with me or don’t report and face dishonorable discharge and possibly being arrested. I guess I’ll just have to make my case while I’m there.”

The commander at Fort Benning will have to decide the case.  Master Sgt. Keith O’Donnell, says these are people who made obligations and commitments to their country.  Of the 25,000 individual ready reserve troops recalled since September 2001, more than 7,500 have been granted deferments or exemptions, O’Donnell said. About 1,000 have failed to report. O’Donnell most of those cases are still under investigation, while 360 soldiers have been separated from the Army either through “other than honorable” discharges or general discharges.

Now Pagan isn’t likely to face charges, as none of the individual ready reserve soldiers who have failed to report faced a court-martial.  Pagan, grew up near Camden, N.J., was working in a department store when she made her commitment in September 2002. She learned how to drive a truck, and met Travis while stationed in Hawaii. She had her first child while in uniform, and they left the service in 2005 when their enlistments were up.

The young family settled outside of Charlotte in the college town of Davidson, where Travis landed a job as a salesman. It required lots of travel, but that was OK – Pagan enjoyed her life as a stay-at-home mom to their son Eric and second child, a daughter named Elizabeth. She opened a day care out of her home, and started taking classes at nearby Fayetteville State.

Her orders to return to active duty came in December of 2007.  She explained, that she had no one to take care of the children, her  husband traveled in his job, and they believe quitting his job is a sure path to bankruptcy and foreclosure. Her parents live in New Jersey and her husband’s parents live in Texas. Neither are able to help out. The Army wasn’t persuaded.

Pagan hired attorney Mark Waple, who filed another appeal, which included a letter from Travis Pagan’s employer that said bluntly: “In order for Travis to remain an employee, he will be required to travel.” In December 2008, her appeal was again rejected.  Tom Tarantino, a policy associate with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a nonprofit group that helps veterans, said the Army has taken a hard line on many of these cases.

Usually the only way to get out of deployment is do to family hardships, and if the children are put into foster care.  That’s how serious it has to be, and I’m sure what the military is telling her – and I’m not saying that this is exactly the right answer – but the fact that it is inconvenient for her husband’s job is not the military’s problem. It’s very harsh.

8 Comments

  1. newsdeskinternational

    An update >

    A North Carolina mother who reported for Army duty with her two young children in tow is meeting with her commanders to see what happens next.

    Attorney Mark Waple said Monday that Lisa Pagan was scheduled to meet Monday morning with commanders at Fort Benning, Ga. Waple said she took her children along with her to the base for the meeting.

    Pagan, who was recalled to the Army four years after being honorably discharged, drove nearly 400 miles and braved a Southeastern winter storm to report for duty Sunday at Fort Benning, Ga.

    Waple said he didn’t know if Pagan’s case would be resolved Monday, but said the meeting represents “the next step toward some kind of resolution.”

  2. newsdeskinternational

    The latest update is as follows…..

    The North Carolina mother who reported for Army duty with her two young children will be discharged from the military, her attorney said Monday.

    The reason for the discharge will be that she doesn’t have, and cannot have, an adequate family care for her two young children, he said.

    There is definitely some feeling of relief, especially since she has been led to believe that the command at Fort Benning is going to do everything to expedite this so she can return to Charlotte, North Carolina, with her children.

    Fort Benning spokesman Bob Purtiman could not immediately confirm Monday afternoon that Pagan would be discharged. He said he was trying to get information from Pagan’s commanders.

    Pagan was recalled to the Army four years after being released from active duty, which is allowed under the military’s “individual ready reserve” program. But she says she had no one to care for her children.

    Soldiers can appeal, and some have won permission to remain in civilian life. Pagan filed several appeals, arguing that because her husband travels for business, no one else can take care of her kids. Her appeals were rejected.

    So she reported for duty Monday at Fort Benning, Georgia, with her children, 5-year-old Elizabeth and 3-year-old Eric.

  3. newsdeskinternational

    Here we have another case of a soldier refusing to deploy to Afghanistan. An army cook from Georgia who is also a single mother might face criminal charges if she refuses to go to Afghanistan. She has no one to care for her 10 month old son.

    Her commanders at Hunter Army Airfield, which is in Savannah Georgia, had 21-year-old Spc. Alexis Hutchinson arrested by military police Nov. 6. She remained confined to the Army post Monday while her case is investigated.

    Her attorney, says the plan was for her mother in California to watch the baby, but her mother said she couldn’t because she is already caring for three other relatives, with illnesses and special needs. So far no charges have been filed, and for now the baby is in California temporarily with the grandmother.

  4. newsdeskinternational

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~UPDATE~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    We have an update on how deployment of parents affect teenagers…

    Teens hit hard when parent is off to war, study finds

    Teens 14 to 17 have more behavior and emotional problems than younger children when a parent is deployed — and for girls in particular, those problems persist after the parent comes home, according to a new study by the Rand Corp.

    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/12/teens_hit_hard_when_parent_is.html

  5. newsdeskinternational

    We have an update on the woman who refused to deploy because she has no one to watch her child…..why isn’t Obama stepping in for her? He treats terrorists with kid gloves, yet this mother, is condemned..

    Army charges single mom who refused deployment

    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.

  6. newsdeskinternational

    She is now going to be discharged instead of court martialed. A general at neighboring Fort Stewart chose to settle the case by granting her an administrative discharge rather than try her in a military court. She still faces consequences, she is being demoted in rank to private and will lose benefits afforded to military service members and veterans. Commanders decided a court-martial would be too disruptive to the Army, requiring soldiers now in Afghanistan to return to the U.S. to testify.

  7. newsdeskinternational

    Military couples balance raising children, warfare

    Four-year-old Ava abandons her playmates at school, flying into the arms of Air Force Sgt. Stacia Zachary. The mother and daughter head to the playground.

    http://www.mynorthwest.com/?nid=174&sid=326443

  8. Janet

    A new report released>>>>>

    A Parent’s Military Deployments Take a Major Toll on Children’s Mental Health, Study Finds

    More fallout from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: Children with an active-duty parent deployed there for long periods were more likely to be diagnosed with a mental health problem than children whose parents were not deployed, researchers reported on Monday.

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/healthcare/a-parent-s-military-deployments-take-a-major-toll-on-children-s-mental-health-study-finds-20110704

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