Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, a 21-year-old Army cook, refused to deploy to Afghanistan in November because she had no one to take care of her 10-month-old son. Hutchinson said when she brought her situation to her superiors’ attention, they told her that she would have to deploy anyway and place the child in foster care. “For her it was like, ‘I couldn’t abandon my child,'” her civilian attorney Rai Sue Sussman told the AP. After skipping her unit’s flight out of Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, GA, military police arrested her and confined her to the base while prosecutors decided how to proceed. Today, the Army filed charges against her and, if convicted in a court-martial, she faces several years in prison and a dishonorable discharge:
A spokesman for Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah said Wednesday that Hutchinson has been charged 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. … But first, an officer will be appointed to decide if there’s enough evidence to try a case against her
There are 70,500 single parents on active duty in the U.S. military, but cases like Hutchinson’s are “rare.” 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 had agreed to care for the boy but became “overwhelmed” caring for three other relatives and decided she couldn’t keep the baby for a full year. An Army spokesman said the Army would not deploy a single parent with no one to care for his or her child.