This is what Spc. Alexis Hutchinson claims one of her superiors told her when she was unable to find a family member to care for her infant son for the duration of her deployment to Afghanistan.
Kevin Larson, a spokesman for Hunter Army Airfield, denies this. While he admits that he personally does not know what Spc. Hutchinson was told by her superiors, he claims the Army would never require a single parent with no one else to support their child to deploy overseas and force the child into the foster care system.
Army regulations do require a single parent-soldier to submit an official plan for child care before deployment to a combat zone. So the law-on-paper backs Mr. Larson's statements.
The trouble is, actual events appear to contradict the actual Army regulations on the issue... as well as Larson's statement.
Knowing that she had to deploy on Nov 5th, Spc. Hutchinson had made arrangements for her mother to care for her infant son. Citing other responsibilities (caring for an ailing mother and sister, a daughter with special needs, and running a 14 child daycare center), the specialist's mother returned the child to his mother just days before she was to deploy. Spc. Hutchinson contacted her superiors and simply requested more time to make alternate arrangements... a highly reasonable request. Unfortunately, it does not appear that her commanders were feeling reasonable.
According to the AP:
Her civilian attorney, Rai Sue Sussman, said Monday that one of foster care.'s superiors told her she would have to deploy anyway and place the child in
This is in violation of Army regulations and policy as described by the base's own spokesman, Mr. Larson. Someone dropped the ball, badly, and Spc. Hutchinson is now paying the price.
Unwilling to place her child in foster care with the attendant risk of not seeing the child again (putting a child into the system is vastly easier than taking them out), Spc. Hutchinson felt that she had no choice but to refuse deployment. She was arrested and briefly jailed. Currently, she is facing charges.
There is no doubt that Spc. Hutchinson is guilty of being absent without leave and disobeying an order. A court martial trying the case solely on the facts has no choice but to convict her. So now Spc. Hutchinson is not only a single mother, but a felon to boot.
Obviously, I believe deliberate clemency is required in this case. I think a plea agreement allowing Spc. Hutchinson to receive a general, rather than dishonourable, discharge and avoid criminal prosecution entirely is more than fair. While I understand why the military cannot ignore her offense entirely for important reasons of military discipline, she was forced into a necessary and legitimate act of civil disobedience by an order that was in contravention of Army policy and may have actually been illegal.
My reason for writing, however, is to present a challenge. The champions of family values should all take a moment to stop crusading against the individual civil liberties of gay Americans and stand up for the integrity of this actual family. If Spc. Hutchinson goes to the stockade it will be because she believed her family values to be the most important values in her life. Stand up for her family values. The champions of 'saving the children' should all take a moment to stop crusading against abortion to stand up for an actual living child whose mother did not have an abortion and has put her own freedom on the line to guarantee he remains with a loving family. Save that child.