Oakland Mom Refuses Deployment to Afghanistan

By Tony Shin and Jessica Greene
|  Tuesday, Nov 17, 2009  |  Updated 8:12 AM PDT
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Military Mom Refuses Deployment

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An Oakland woman torn between a soldier's duty to country and a mother's duty to her child could be facing criminal charges and a long separation from her 10-month-old son.

Army cook and single mom Alexis Hutchinson refused to deploy to Afhganistan after finding nobody to care for her son, Kamani. So Hutchinson's mother, Angelique Hughes, is taking care of Kamani back in Oakland.

Hughes is worried about her daughter, Army Specialist Alexis Hutchinson, who's being detained at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia. Military police arrested her because she skipped her deployment flight to Afghanistan.

Hutchinson says she had no choice because there was no one to care for Kamani while she was overseas.

"She's texting me, she's crying and she doesn't know what to do." Hughes said. "She's stressed out to the point where she wants to do bodily harm to herself."

It all began a few months ago, when Hughes agreed to take care of her 10-month-old grandson, Kamani, while her daughter,  stationed in Georgia, was deployed for a year in Afghanistan.

But shortly before Hutchinson was supposed to leave, Hughes realized she couldn't take care of her grandson.  "I run a child care business with 14 kids and work 12 hours a day.  I help out my Mom, my sister is about to have surgery and I have this infant I have to care for 24 hours a day," she said.

She also cares for another daughter who has special needs and said it's overwhelming.

"She didn't get 30 days, she got maybe five,"said Hughes.  Hutchinson missed her plane to Afghanistan. A day later, the Army arrested her and put Kamani in child protective services.  "So, I was on the plane the next day to pick him back up,"said Hughes.

Hughes claims the military agreed to postpone her daughter's deployment for 30 days so they could find someone to care for Kamani.

Huges also saw her daughter. "They had her in a cell that was smaller than my bathroom,"she said. "Just a cot in there, you know."

Hutchinson is no longer in a cell, but she is under base confinement, and possibly facing court martial. "I really don't think that young mothers who have infant children should be deployed, period," Hughes said.

The U.S. Army released this statement:

"Specialist Alexis Hutchinson is a Soldier stationed at Hunter Army Airfield. She is not under any confinement but has been ordered to remain on the installation while the command addresses her alleged misconduct. Just days prior to her scheduled deployment, Specialist Hutchinson's commander received information that indicated that Specialist Hutchinson had engaged in misconduct. Due to the fact that Specialist Hutchinson has a small child, her deployment was delayed so that the command could ensure Specialist Hutchinson's child was cared-for and so that she could meet with legal counsel. In the meantime, Specialist Hutchinson's command had been assured that her mother is caring for her young son.

Currently, thousands of Soldiers at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield are deploying overseas. However, because of her circumstances, Specialist Hutchinson's commander is reexamining whether or not she will be able to deploy. Because her case could present a hardship to not only her child but also her extended family, Specialist Hutchinson's command has halted her departure and will continue to work with her legal counsel."

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