Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, a 21-year-old Army cook, had no choice but to skip deployment to Afghanistan, even if it meant going to jail. The single mother of 10-month-old Kamani did not have anyone in place to care for her son.
Her mother, who was already emotionally and physically spent caring for three relatives, was incapable of caring for her grandson. Since Hutchinson had no other relatives or friends with whom she could leave her young son (the child's father is also out of the picture) she refused military orders to go overseas.
The Oakland, Calif., native was arrested by military police 10 days after she missed her unit's flight. To date, no charges have been filed, and Hutchinson remains confined to the Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga., where she may be facing up to a year in jail, pending an investigation.
In a statement released through her lawyer, Hutchinson said:
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.
When the military mom was arrested on Nov. 6, Kamani was handed over to child welfare services, where he remained for nearly two days until Hutchinson's mother picked him up. According to Army records, Hutchinson joined the army in 2007 and has not been previously deployed overseas.
Army regulations dictate that all single-parent soldiers pre-plan their childcare accommodations for dependent children before they are deployed. According to published reports, in late October, Rai Sue Sussman, Hutchinson's attorney, said that the Army told her client that they would give her more time to find suitable arrangements for her child. Sussman added, "Then earlier this month, they told her she would not get the extended time after all and would have to deploy. The day before she was forced to deploy, they told her you have a choice to make, but your duty is to get on that plane," Sussman said.
In a release, Sussman stresses, "Hutchinson is not a conscientious objector seeking to avoid deployment." Kevin Larson, a spokesman for Hunter Army Airfield, states that Hutchinson's "deployment is halted" and that there will be no deployment while there is an investigation.