VIA: Savannah Morning News
A 3rd Infantry Division soldier stationed in Savannah who failed to deploy for a year to Afghanistan because she couldn’t find someone to care for her infant son has been charged with four violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, 21, from Oakland, Calif., had charges – including missing movement, absence without leave, dereliction of duty and insubordinate conduct toward a noncommissioned officer – leveled against her Tuesday afternoon.
The charges stem from Nov. 5, when she refused to board a plane with the rest of the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, claiming plans for her mother to care for her then 11-month-old son, Kamani, fell through. The soldier now faces a possible court-martial and dishonorable discharge.
A military preliminary hearing date has not been set, according to Kevin Larson, chief of public communication for Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.
“In cases where soldiers are being held in confinement, the military has 140 days for them to be arraigned, at which point, they would enter a plea,” Larson said Wednesday. “I am not sure how it will work in this situation or what kind of timeline.”
Larson said that military officials also must determine what kind of court-martial Hutchinson would face, which in turn would determine the types of penalties she might face if found guilty of the charges.
Until then, he said, Hutchinson will continue to come and go from Hunter Army Airfield, where the Army cook has been reporting for duty since missing her unit’s flight.
“It should be noted that leadership has offered alternatives for her child’s care. … These are viable solutions so she can complete her duty,” Larson said. “But she hasn’t taken up any of those offers.”
In November, Hutchinson’s attorney, Rai Sue Sussman, argued the Army is being unreasonable in asking the single mother to go to war without suitable arrangements for her son.
Sussman said, initially, Hutchinson’s family plan included her mother keeping Kamani. But the California-based grandmother, who also is caring for several ailing relatives in addition to running her own day care, quickly realized she wouldn’t be able to care for her grandson.
The infant returned to Georgia, but was collected by his grandmother a few days later after his soldier-mother was held in confinement at Hunter airfield for missing movement.
He remained with his grandmother until Hutchinson was permitted a two-week visit during the Christmas holidays and to celebrate his first birthday. It has been reported Kamani returned to Georgia with Hutchinson, but several attempts to contact Sussman for confirmation were unsuccessful.
The Army requires single soldiers to develop family care plans before departing for war zones.
According to the Department of Defense, there are more than 70,500 active duty, single parents in the U.S. military – which represents almost 5 percent of all service members. It is estimated almost 30,000 single mothers have deployed since March 2009.
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