East Bay News

Military mom without childcare goes AWOL

Friday, November 13, 2009

The U.S. Army is dealing with an emotional and complicated case involving an Oakland woman. She's a single mother, scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan, even though she has no one to care for her 11-month-old baby.

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The woman is a 21-years-old single mom, who was almost on her way to Afghanistan. However, she is not the only one. A report released last month says 30,000 single mothers have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.

For now 11-month-old Kamani Hutchinson is being cared for by his grandmother, Angelique Hughes of Oakland. A few days ago she flew to Savannah, Georgia after learning the Army had put Kamani in Child Protective Services.

"I was on the plane the next day," said Hughes.

Her daughter, Army specialist Alexis Hutchinson is stationed at Hunter Army Airfield at Fort Stewart in Georgia.

When Hutchinson was to be deployed to Afghanistan, she brought Kamani to live with grandma, but after a week, it was too much for Hughes.

She already cares for an ailing mother, a special-needs daughter and a sister who is scheduled to go into the hospital.

"So it's like I have to...I'm spreading myself thin and I deal with kids all day long, so I have not a break in between anywhere," said Hughes.

Hughes also does day care in her home.

Her daughter, a 21-year-old single mom couldn't find anyone else to care for Kamani and failed to show up for her plane to Afghanistan.

Rai Sue Sussman is an attorney who helps military men and women in similar situations. She says Hutchinson, with a friend by her side, turned herself in.

"The military police arrested her and wouldn't let her friend take her child and so they took him away and put him in Child Protective Services," said Sussman.

Hutchinson now faces a number of charges. Sussman listed them as: "AWOL, missing movement, desertion, failing to have a family care plane and disobeying an officer."

An Army representative spoke to ABC7 about the case.

"Because her case could present hardship, to not only to her child but her family, the command is working with her and her legal council to resolve this situation," said Kevin M. Larson with the U.S. Army.

In the meantime she will not be deployed.

"He's been taken away from his mother. By the time he actually sees his mother, he'll probably be 2-year- old. Will she even know who she is at that point in time? It's ridiculous," said Hughes.

According to the Army spokesperson, right now Hutchinson is not under arrest, but is confined to Hunter Army Airfield until this matter is resolved.

The military gives new moms four months to remain stateside before they are deployed to a war zone. Also, in the army, the divorce rate of female soldiers was three times higher last year than among male soldiers.

The statistics can be found at the link below.

LINK: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America: Report on Army single mothers

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Tags:
afghanistan war, east bay news, lyanne melendez
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