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Army sends infant to foster care, mom to Afghanistan

November 13, 2009

Call Congresswoman Barbara Lee to stop her deployment

by Dahr Jamail

Alexis and Kamani
Alexis and Kamani
Ventura, Calif. (IPS) – 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.

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 Hutchinson’s 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.

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. [At latest word, she has been given a short reprieve. – ed.]

U.S. Army Spc. Alexis Hutchinson plays with her son, Kamani. Don’t let the Army separate them! – Photo: Courtesy of Alexis Hutchinson
U.S. Army Spc. Alexis Hutchinson plays with her son, Kamani. Don’t let the Army separate them! – Photo: Courtesy of Alexis Hutchinson
Hutchinson’s 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. She’s required to have a complete family care plan, and was told she’d have an extension, but then they changed it on her.”

Asked why she believes the military revoked Hutchinson’s extension, Sussman responded: “I think they didn’t believe her that she was unable to find someone to care for her infant. They think she’s just trying to get out of her deployment. But she’s just trying to find someone she can trust to take care of her baby.”

Hutchinson’s 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.

Sussman says Hutchinson told her: “It is outrageous that they would deploy a single mother without a complete and current family care plan. I would like to find someone I trust who can take care of my son, but I cannot force my family to do this. They are dealing with their own health issues.”

Sussman told IPS that the Army’s JAG (Judge Advocate General) attorney, Capt. Ed Whitford, “told me they thought her chain of command thought she was trying to get out of her deployment by using her child as an excuse.”

Major Gallagher of Hutchinson’s unit also told Sussman that he did not believe it was a real family crisis and that Hutchinson’s “mother should have been able to take care of the baby.”

In addition, according to Sussman, a First Sergeant Gephart “told me he thought she [Hutchinson] was pulling her family care plan stuff to get out of her deployment.”

“To me it sounds completely bogus,” Sussman told IPS. “I think what they are actually going to do is have her spend her year deployment in Afghanistan, then court martial her back here upon her return. This would do irreparable harm to her child. I think they are doing this to punish her, because they think she is lying.”

Sussman explained that she believes the best possible outcome is for the Army to either give Hutchinson the extension they had said she would receive so that she can find someone to care for her infant, or barring this, to simply discharge her so she can take care of her child.

Nevertheless, Hutchinson is simply asking for the time extension to complete her family care plan and not to be discharged.

“I’m outraged by this,” Sussman told IPS, “I’ve never gone to the media with a military client, but this situation is just completely over the top.”

Dahr Jamail’s new book, “The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan,” is now available. Order it at http://tinyurl.com/cnlgyu. As one of the first and few unembedded Western journalists to report the truth about how the United States has destroyed, not liberated, Iraqi society in his book “Beyond the Green Zone,” Jamail now investigates the under-reported but growing antiwar resistance of American GIs. Gathering the stories of these courageous men and women, Jamail shows us that far from “supporting our troops,” politicians have betrayed them at every turn. Finally, Jamail shows us that the true heroes of the criminal tragedy of the Iraq War are those brave enough to say no. Visit his website at http://dahrjamailiraq.com. The Bay View is proud to have been one of the first newspapers to publish his dispatches. This story first appeared at Inter Press Service.

Action alert from Courage to Resist

Contact Congresswoman Barbara Lee to urge her to “request that the Army not deploy Alexis Hutchinson to Afghanistan so that she can care for her son.” From Oakland and Berkeley, call (510) 763-0370 or fax (510) 763-6538. Nationwide, call (202) 225-2661 or fax (202) 225-9817.

27 thoughts on “Army sends infant to foster care, mom to Afghanistan

  1. Edwina

    I’m a former ARMY BRAT, BUT I CAN TELL you we didn’t have to put up with all the crap they have to put up with these days. I can’t imagine that Alexis can’t be given an extension to find a reliable babysitter for her son. It is totally ridiculous. And you wonder why people are against going to Afghanistan & Irag while they have been deployed so many times there. I support my troops , but for GOD’S sake
    give the poor woman a break.
    A VERY CONCERNED AMERIFAN

    Reply
  2. Sr. Megan Rice

    One more blatant example and “proof” of the extreme dis-ease, sign of disruption in the Earth’s sacred harmony created by addictive militarism emanating in this country upon the whole Planet. Alexis is on more victim whom we hold in honor, healing love – whose resistance is part of our shared healing. The violence of weapons of mass destuction, war must be transformed into peaceful alternatives. For these we all are living and striving. Carry on in renewed strength and courage. We are with you!

    Reply
  3. Gina

    Especially if your a single parent? Why would you enlist knowing you’ll be deployed and just hope you can get childcare for a YEAR! Unbelievable

    Reply
  4. Physal

    It strange that when you start checking facts how the story is still tragic, but you wonder about the “victim” status of her. She joins the army in late 2007/early 2008 and almost immediatly becomes pregnant an gives birth in January 2009. How about dad watching the his kid? I’m more inclined to be compassionate if this parental avenue is explored to its public fullest, with the same enthusiam as “Single Mom, blah, blah, blah”. Bring forth the father!

    How long did she know she would be deployed? What choices does she have given more time? Any of these questions will help clarify her position.

    I’m sure the army is not being nice to her because they have so many people join and start having babies instead of serving the country. I had a neighbor who had two while in the service. She did marry the dad after her time was up though.

    My guess is that they would like to get her out and cut their training/food/housing/pay losses as quick as possible.

    I’m afraid it is “a blatant example and proof of the extreme dis-ease” of not following the sacred harmony of a woman having high expectations for the man she marries and THEN having children that they can raise and care for together.

    Reply
  5. Leo P. Batz

    If the Army does not let Alexis go to the Collins who offered to care for the child. “LET ME HAVE A CHANCE”. this young lady should not be criminally charged for caring about her child – when there are so many children with wrecked families not caring about their children = only themselves!! I’ve seen the results too many times under “FOSTER CARE”.

    Reply
  6. Leo P. Batz

    If the Army does not let Alexis go to the Collins who offered to care for the child. “LET ME HAVE A CHANCE”. this young lady should not be criminally charged for caring about her child – when there are so many children with wrecked families not caring about their children = only themselves!! I’ve seen the results too many times under “FOSTER CARE”.

    Reply
  7. Chris

    I feel for her and understand her point of view, BUT. If she can’t preform her job as required then she needs to find another one. NOT in the military. People do it all the time. She should be charged for not following orders. After all she agreed to it by joining the Army. She signed on the line. This is not new to her the day she joined she knew she would be deployed at some point. File charges and give her a general discharge. Then she can find a job that will work better for her situation. There is no job out there that would not fire her if she didn’t preform her duties. It is not fair to everyother soldier who deploys.

    Reply
  8. Nerrad

    Reinstate my status, E6 or better and I would go in her place, if this were possible, then OhRah! Lets go! Hope everything works itself out.

    Reply
  9. John Bergin

    Another example of trying to ‘get-over’.
    Enough of this nonsense.
    Where’s Dad??
    Has he been paying child-support??
    I totally believe she’s trying to get out of her deployment and she’s exploiting her child to do so. There is more to this. This child will be raised by the state as Mom will be in Leavenworth convicted of cowaradice and dereliction of duty. Read the oath that one takes when joining the military.

    Reply
  10. Rodriguez

    why everyone is leaving their nasty comments u should know the facts before u voice ur opinion on the web. i know alexis is not trying to get out of deployment if she was she would have got a pregnancy chapter once she got pregnant…which was after she enlisted may i add. give her the time she needs so she can do her job as a soldier not giving her the extra time is bull. look down at urself before jumpin the gun on someone else, for those of u who dont understand her situation or dont want to understand it my word to u pathetic…ur pathetic!! hope everything turns out in alexis’s favor. single parents in the military rock!

    Reply
  11. Rodriguez

    by the way if u had any common sense u would know that if the father was in the babys life she probably wouldn’t have a family care plan issue

    Reply
  12. pdt

    This just goes to show that the Army isnt as family oriented as it claims to be. How could anyone ask a parent to just up and leave his/her child because of a war we have no business fighting. This is straight bullshit, and it makes no sense at all.

    Reply
  13. George S. Patton

    Got pregnant, failed to meet responsibilities as a parent and a soldier. Give her a dishonorable discharge so she
    can sponge off the welfare system.

    Reply
  14. Joy

    Why are you bringing welfare into this? Because you see what she looks like in the photo? There’s no logical reason for that inclusion so stick to the topic of the military please.

    Reply
  15. Mike

    This is ridiculous, where is the Army’s side of the story? Was she forever late to work becuase of her kid? Was she missing watches becuase of her kid? What kind of worker was she? Was she in trouble a lot? Despite popular opinion the military is pretty fair if you are following the rules.

    Reply
  16. MDSanchez

    Some of you are making this bigger than needs be…it doesnt matter where the father is, it doesnt matter about the welfare system, it doesnt matter how long she knew about her deployment. What matters is this child needs to be placed with someone who can help Spc. Hutchinson, someone who is not a perv, a kook, a deranged lunatic, some one who is of stable mind and community ties, that will return her child once she returns from deployment. I am willing to step up for her. No one wants to leave their child in the foster care system knowing the horror stories that can occur. She’s a soldier in our military!! C’mon people have some compassion.

    Reply
  17. Latosha Spriggs

    This is for SPC. Hutchinson if she can read this. My name is SPC Spriggs and I am stationed in Ft. Sill, OK.
    If you need any kind of help, you can pleas econtact me at latosha.smith@us.army.mil.
    I will be more than willing to help you out with your situation dealing with your deployment. I have a 4 month daughter that both me and my husband are taking care of. You dont worry about paying us anything we just want to help you out while you deploy so you want be discharged from the Army.
    We just want to help out our military family.
    Thank you

    Reply
  18. Norma Lee

    When the Vietnam war was going on and we had the drafts back then, they always left one son to carry on the family name. How could our country take a single mother from a child, and place that child in foster care? Then if that mother, God forbid ,should lose her life over there , that child will have to grow up in the foster care system. Don’t we have enough parentless children now? If she has to be discharged so be it. But don’t take away the only parent this child has. And for those who are pursuing this issue, stop and think would you do that to your child?

    Reply
  19. Pamela

    I have been trying to find how to contact her attorney. My husband (a retired Air Force Colonel) and I (a homemaker) are interested in finding out how we can help. We would like to explore the option of fostering her son for her while she is deployed. Does anyone know how Ms. Sussman can be reached?

    Reply
  20. mary Post author

    Pamela, you and everyone who has offered to help are heroes! I don’t have any inside knowledge of who to contact, but I’d suggest getting in touch with Courage to Resist, http://www.couragetoresist.org/. See the paragraph at the end of the story headed, Action alert from Courage to Resist. They also published this story (see http://www.couragetoresist.org/x/content/view/789/1/) and are heading up the organizing.

    Mary Ratcliff, editor
    SF Bay View

    Reply
  21. Pamela

    I would love to help this young woman do the duty she has signed up for while making sure that her son has great care. My husband proudly served in the military for 27 years and we could do no less.

    Reply
  22. tish

    Some people are so judgemental and ignorant to this problem. I just had a newborn and I am a single mom and Im having a hard time finding someone to care for my baby girl also. She is being a mother. Yeah, we all could find anyone to just watch our children but look at our society today. Grown men sexually assaulting babies, kidnappings, and abuse. That person you thought would support your child could harm them as well. She needs time to think about this. Like others have stated if she wanted out she could have easily done so while pregnant. They give you that decision. Keep your head up and pray.

    Reply
  23. jen

    This is so sad and I can’t believe people are talking bad about her on the site.. saying she should have gotten married or she shouldn’t have joined the military or the dad should take care of the baby, who are you to judge her. If we lived in a perfect world she won’t be in situation, right but we don’t. i think that it’s hard enough for her to leave her baby for such a long time but to be forced to put the child in foster care is crazy. As a parent knowing that someone else has your baby that you don’t know would drive a person insane. People shouldn’t be so judgmental you have no idea what she is going though. My husband is deployed to Afghanistan right now so I know how hard it is for her to think about leaving her baby.

    Reply

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