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Should this mom be forced into active duty? Should single parents be deployed?

Posted by on Mar. 2, 2009 at 1:24 AM
  • 68 Replies

Mom: Deployment leaves no one to care for kids

 

DAVIDSON, N.C. – When Lisa Pagan reports for duty Sunday, four long years after she was honorably discharged from the Army, she'll arrive with more than her old uniform. She's bringing her kids, too.

"I have to bring them with me," she said. "I don't have a choice."

Pagan is among thousands of former service members who have left active duty since the Sept. 11 attacks, only to later receive orders to return to service. They're not in training, they're not getting a Defense Department salary, but as long as they have time left on their original enlistment contracts, they're on "individual ready reserve" status — eligible to be recalled at any time.

Soldiers can appeal, and some have won permission to remain in civilian life. Pagan filed several appeals, arguing that because her husband travels for business, no one else can take care of her kids. All were rejected, leaving Pagan with what she says is a choice between deploying to Iraq and abandoning her family, or refusing her orders and potentially facing charges.

Then she hit on the idea of showing up Sunday at Fort Benning, Ga., with her children in tow.

"I guess they'll have to contact the highest person at the base, and they'll have to decide from there what to do," Pagan said. "I either report and bring the children with me or don't report and face dishonorable discharge and possibly being arrested. I guess I'll just have to make my case while I'm there."

Master Sgt. Keith O'Donnell, an Army spokesman in St. Louis, said the commander at Fort Benning will decide how to handle the situation.

"The Army tries to look at the whole picture and they definitely don't want to do anything that jeopardizes the family or jeopardizes the children," O'Donnell said. "At the same time, these are individuals who made obligations and commitments to the country."

Of the 25,000 individual ready reserve troops recalled since September 2001, more than 7,500 have been granted deferments or exemptions, O'Donnell said. About 1,000 have failed to report. O'Donnell most of those cases are still under investigation, while 360 soldiers have been separated from the Army either through "other than honorable" discharges or general discharges.

He said Pagan isn't likely to face charges, since none of the individual ready reserve soldiers who have failed to report faced a court-martial.

Pagan, who grew up near Camden, N.J., was working in a department store when she made her commitment in September 2002. She learned how to drive a truck, and met Travis while stationed in Hawaii. She had her first child while in uniform, and they left the service in 2005 when their enlistments were up.

She always knew there was a chance she could be recalled, so she buried the thought in the back of her mind.

"When I enlisted, they said almost nobody gets called back when you're in the IRR," she said.

The young family settled outside of Charlotte in the college town of Davidson, where Travis landed a job as a salesman. It required lots of travel, but that was OK — Pagan enjoyed her life as a stay-at-home mom to their son Eric and a daughter named Elizabeth.

She opened a child-care center in her home, and started taking classes at nearby Fayetteville State.

The orders to return to active duty arrived in December 2007. She told the Army there was no one to take care of her children: Her husband spent most of his time on the road, and they believe quitting his job is a sure path to bankruptcy and foreclosure. Her parents live in New Jersey and her husband's parents live in Texas. Neither are able to help out. The Army wasn't persuaded.

Pagan hired attorney Mark Waple, who filed another appeal, which included a letter from Travis Pagan's employer that said bluntly: "In order for Travis to remain an employee, he will be required to travel." In December 2008, her appeal was again rejected.

"It's the obligation of commanders to make certain that service members have a valid family care plan and that clearly has not happened in Lisa's case," Waple said.

Tom Tarantino, a policy associate with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a nonprofit group that helps veterans, said the Army has taken a hard line on many of these cases.

"Usually the only way that someone can get out of the deployment or get out of the military due to a family hardship is if they get into a situation where the kids will be put into foster care," Tarantino said.

"That's how serious it has to be, and I'm sure what the military is telling her — and I'm not saying that this is exactly the right answer — but the fact that it is inconvenient for her husband's job is not the military's problem. It's very harsh."

by on Mar. 2, 2009 at 1:24 AM
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Replies (1-10):
jay2
by New Member on Mar. 2, 2009 at 1:29 AM

No she shouldn't have to go!!

Anything For My Boys!!! Love God & Pray Always.

JBOYD4
by on Mar. 2, 2009 at 1:38 AM

I look forward to seeing what the Army's ultimate choice will be. On the other hand in the year after 9/11 I was a single mother of a 4 month old being deployed, I was granted an honorable discharge from the USN. Before the discharge however my chain of  command did actually suggest that I leave her with my regular baby sitter just on a long term basis and leave a POA, which disgusted me.

JORDON D. BOYD happy st. patricks day

JBOYD4
by on Mar. 2, 2009 at 1:39 AM


Quoting JBOYD4:

I look forward to seeing what the Army's ultimate choice will be. On the other hand in the year after 9/11 I was a single mother of a 4 month old being deployed, I was granted an honorable discharge from the USN. Before the discharge however my chain of  command did actually suggest that I leave her with my regular baby sitter just on a long term basis and leave a POA, which disgusted me.


JORDON D. BOYD happy st. patricks day

misskimmy62
by on Mar. 2, 2009 at 2:12 AM

Generally speaking - YES, single parents should be deployed - IF they are on active duty. But this woman, no way should she be sent anywhere. She has been out for four years!  This is just not right.

Susanjdv861
by on Mar. 2, 2009 at 2:19 AM

ya she signed a contract and so she need to go and fulfill her duty. millions of other people in this country do it everyday and so should she. she is using her kids as an exuse in not doing her duty and that is just sad. she is no different than all the other men and women deploying everyday. they all have to leave kids behind too. she is nothing special. her husband could easily quit his job and support his wife and take care of their children while she is gone. they just don't want to. ya it mite be less money for them. but its the right thing to do and they will survive.

Brandie_xo
by Member on Mar. 2, 2009 at 5:02 AM

so many wives give up with entire lives to devote to their children when their husbands deploy. there's no reason her husband cant do the same.

When single parents deploy, their parents or other family members look after the children. that's just how it goes.

yes.it sucks.

If she shows up with her kids, its just going to land her in hot water with her superiors, and she will end up leaving not knowing who is in charge of her kids

toddler girlKailyn- January 15th 2008storkBaby#2 Due Oct. 12

pregnancy due date


admckenzie
by New Member on Mar. 2, 2009 at 8:29 AM
First off she's not single and the dad could watch them when home and hire someone to watch them when he's not. There are women in the military who allow grandparents or others to watch their kids while serving.

As for being recalled and now has children, she knew she was obligated to return if needed. She knew we were in wartime and the possibility was high. She agreed to give the military a certain amount of her time. She knew when she had these children that would be an issue but it says she chose to put that thought away and not think about it. You can't just ignore obligations. You can't ignore contracts you make with the military. If they didn't need you they wouldn't call you back.

I think this is an example of young adults not taking their contracts seriously or she would have prepared for this or waited to have children. Just my opinion.

Oh, and taking her kids to the base with her to make her point is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. It's not like taking them to class in college bc the sitter didn't show up. I wouldn't be surprised to see CPS waiting there to take them into custody just to make another point. Why put the children through that? Why put the children center stage and possibly go through trauma. That's just wrong. That reminds me of when the protesters back in the 60's had sit ins and put the children out front. Some kids got hurt when things got out of hand. I just hope these kids don't get hurt emotionally over her antics. It just makes me think she wants her 15 min of fame.
IhartU
by Gold Member on Mar. 2, 2009 at 8:34 AM

I was a single mother in the Army and even before your baby is born, you are required to make a care plan for your child in case you are deployed. There is no geting around it- they will kick you out if you don't have one. They also require you to make a will or they will kick you out.

They go out of their way to make sure your children are cared for in a case like this and if you go and whine about not having anyone to care for your babies they ALWAYS TELL YOU THE SAME THING: THE MILITARY DIDN'T ISSUE YOU A FAMILY. It's you responsibility to find child care, so I feel no sympathy for this mother what so ever. She KNEW this might happen and for her to not have some sort of plan prepared is totally irresponsible not only to her children, but to her country.

shandrarose
by New Member on Mar. 2, 2009 at 8:46 AM

i think that a really good point..

and when it said single mother, i thought there was no father at all.. but that he is just traveling? he could find another job that doesnt require him to travel. i mean its that simple, its what he has to do. it looks like they both need to step it up and do what they need to. yea it sucks and may not be what you want to do.. but its what you need to do..

Quoting Brandie_xo:

so many wives give up with entire lives to devote to their children when their husbands deploy. there's no reason her husband cant do the same.

When single parents deploy, their parents or other family members look after the children. that's just how it goes.

yes.it sucks.

If she shows up with her kids, its just going to land her in hot water with her superiors, and she will end up leaving not knowing who is in charge of her kids


spastic_poodle
by Member on Mar. 2, 2009 at 8:52 AM

She's not actually a single mother, so a single mother's situation doesn't pertain to her.  She has a fully capable husband that is just as able to give up his job to take care of their child as she is.  My husband is military and I gave up my well paying job to take care of our child, he'd have done it too if our situations were reversed. 

When you join the military, you sign a contract.  And when you DO have a spouse capable of taking care of your children, I don't see why the government would find any reason to give you leave from that contract.

Quoting Brandie_xo:

so many wives give up with entire lives to devote to their children when their husbands deploy. there's no reason her husband cant do the same.

When single parents deploy, their parents or other family members look after the children. that's just how it goes.

yes.it sucks.

If she shows up with her kids, its just going to land her in hot water with her superiors, and she will end up leaving not knowing who is in charge of her kids


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