U.S. Army Specialist Alexis Hutchinson, a single mother, is being threatened with a military court-martial if she does not agree to deploy to Afghanistan, despite having been told she would be granted extra time to find someone to care for her 11-month-old son while she is overseas.
Hutchinson, of Oakland, California, is currently being confined at Hunter Army Airfield near Savannah, Georgia, after being arrested. Her son was placed into a county foster care system.
Hutchinson has been threatened with a court martial if she does not agree to deploy to Afghanistan on Sunday, Nov. 15. She has been attempting to find someone to take care of her child, Kamani, while she is deployed overseas, but to no avail.
According to the family care plan of the U.S. Army, Hutchinson was allowed to fly to California and leave her son with her mother, Angelique Hughes of Oakland.
However, after a week of caring for the child, Hughes realized she was unable to care for Kamani along with her other duties of caring for a daughter with special needs, her ailing mother, and an ailing sister.
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In late October, Angelique Hughes told Hutchinson and her commander that she would be unable to care for Kamani after all. The Army then gave Hutchinson an extension of time to allow her to find someone else to care for Kamani. Meanwhile, Hughes brought Kamani back to Georgia to be with his mother.
However, only a few days before Hutchinsons original deployment date, she was told by the Army she would not get the time extension after all, and would have to deploy, despite not having found anyone to care for her child.
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Faced with this choice, Hutchinson chose not to show up for her plane to Afghanistan. The military arrested her and placed her child in the county foster care system.
Currently, Hutchinson is scheduled to fly to Afghanistan on Sunday for a special court martial, where she then faces up to one year in jail.
Hutchinsons civilian lawyer, Rai Sue Sussman, told IPS, "The core issue is that they are asking her to make an inhumane choice. She did not have a complete family care plan, meaning she did not find someone to provide long-term care for her child. Shes required to have a complete family care plan, and was told shed have an extension, but then they changed it on her."
Asked why she believes the military revoked Hutchinsons extension, Sussman responded, "I think they didnt believe her that she was unable to find someone to care for her infant. They think shes just trying to get out of her deployment. But shes just trying to find someone she can trust to take care of her baby."
Hutchinsons mother has flown to Georgia to retrieve the baby, but is overwhelmed and does not feel able to provide long-term care for the child.
According to Sussman, the soldier needs more time to find someone to care for her infant, but does not as yet have friends or family able to do so.
November 16, 2009
Dahr Jamail has reported from inside Iraq and is the author of Beyond the Green Zone and The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.