Army Discharging Single Mom Who Refused Deployment
The battle of whether or not a single mother would receive jail time for refusing to deploy to Afghanistan is over.
Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, an Army cook who was stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, told Uncle Sam that she had no family who could take care of her young son while she was on tour. Instead of facing a court-martial, Hutchinson will be discharged from the military.
Last month, the Army filed criminal charges against Hutchinson of Oakland, CA for refusing to report. However, 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's excited that she's no longer facing jail and can still be with her son, which is the most important thing," Rai Sue Sussman, Hutchinson's civilian attorney, told the Associated Press "We're very happy about it right now."
Despite her victory, Hutchinson is being demoted in rank to private. Additionally, she will lose her military benefits, Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson told the AP.
According to Larson, the Army had evidence that Hutchinson, regardless of her family situation, would have resisted deploying "by any means." He said commanders decided a court martial would be too disruptive to the Army as it would require soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan to return home to testify.
"This case wasn't about a soldier having to choose between her duty to the nation and her family," Larson said. "There is evidence both from Pvt. Hutchinson and her fellow soldiers to indicate she had no intentions of deploying."
According to the AP, the Army requires all single-parent soldiers to submit a care plan for dependent children before they can deploy to a combat zone.
Hutchinson's plan was to leave her child with her mother. However, after just a few days, her mother said that she could not take care of her grandchild for that extended of a period. That's when Hutchinson told her superiors that she wasn't reporting, a few days before she was scheduled to deploy.
According to the AP, the Defense Department reports that there are more than 70,500 single parents on active duty in the military - about 5 percent of all service members. Nearly half of military single parents are in the Army.
Photo credit: AP