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

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
Replies (11-20):
chesiretuff
by Member on Mar. 2, 2009 at 9:13 AM


Quoting Susanjdv861:

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.

I think we could show a little compassion here.  In today's economy, leaving your job is a huge risk.  It's not fair to cause someone to lose their house and livelihood to fulfill a contract.  If there is a position the father could transfer to and keep his job, he should do that and she can be deployed.  There are laws protecting soldiers from the negative affects of deployment, like losing their job or missing a promotion.  The military is not out to ruin families.      

gogetem
by Bronze Member on Mar. 2, 2009 at 9:20 AM

it SUCKS, but that's just how it is.  When you sign your name over to the military, you are risking having to do things like this.    I'm not sure how it is for army, but my husband told me that after his second enlistment is over in the Navy (after 8 years), they can't call him back to duty. 

Personally, if I was in this situation, you wouldn't get me away from my children alive.   They would have to kill me first.

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Junebug926
by Bronze Member on Mar. 2, 2009 at 9:53 AM

I agree with this.

Quoting admckenzie:

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.


dr_m
by on Mar. 2, 2009 at 9:58 AM

I dont think a single parent should be forced to deploy, or, if the spouse is deployed at the same time..   

anyone see Saving Private Ryan ?   they didn't want the surviving son deployed...  imagine a child with no dad, losing his or her mommy ???

 

 

DawnVirgin
by Member on Mar. 2, 2009 at 10:14 AM

Yes I agree with this, however shes not a single parent. But I dont think she should have to go. Because it would cause them hardship. yes she signed a contract but she fulfilled most of it. I this she should be allowed time arrange proper care but she has had since Dec 2007. Thats plenty enough time in my opinion. I dont believe she should be called back, but the fact is she is being called, and that rests on her. She knew there would be a chance

Quoting dr_m:

I dont think a single parent should be forced to deploy, or, if the spouse is deployed at the same time..   

anyone see Saving Private Ryan ?   they didn't want the surviving son deployed...  imagine a child with no dad, losing his or her mommy ???

 



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..JessIca..
by Member on Mar. 2, 2009 at 10:17 AM

She is being ridiculous! She knew what she was doing when she signed the contract. Its not like she is not going to be making money while deployed. Her and her husband can make do with him being that stay at home dad.

In the case of a single parent, I think that they should hold his or her deployment until they are able to find care for there child (ren).

forsythia_18
by on Mar. 2, 2009 at 10:18 AM

The military is able to look into special circumstances like this.  I know a woman who has cancer and her husband is kept from being deployed because of this.  She shouldn't be deployed.  There are plenty of people who can be deployed that wouldn't leave children without someone to look after them.

chesiretuff
by Member on Mar. 2, 2009 at 10:37 AM

I gave this reply in another group's post about the same subject:

She should be exempt.  And if the roles were reversed, then a man should be exempt for the same reasons.  She was on the IRR.  That's different than being active and getting deployed.  She served her time and was discharged honorably.  The IRR stands for Individual Ready Reserve, it's a "just in case" list.  Soldiers on that list can be called back if needed.  They always activate more than needed because it's expected that not everyone will be deployable.

I joined the national guard when I was in high school for the college money.  That was 3 years before I even met my future husband and 6 years before I had my son.  Between my junior and senior year at college, while I was on the IRR, I got called up to go to Iraq.  I went back home to get ready to go, where I found out I was pregos, so I didn't have to go.  They had me send them a signed letter from my ob/gyn stating that I was pregnant and what my due date was.  Until Dec 2007, I was always aware they could still call me up.  I could have very well been called up soon after my due date.

I think people that are capable of going should, but the Army should be considerate of families and should not force parents to put their kids somewhere they don't want them.  

rella8672
by on Mar. 2, 2009 at 11:24 AM


Quoting chesiretuff:

I gave this reply in another group's post about the same subject:

She should be exempt.  And if the roles were reversed, then a man should be exempt for the same reasons.  She was on the IRR.  That's different than being active and getting deployed.  She served her time and was discharged honorably.  The IRR stands for Individual Ready Reserve, it's a "just in case" list.  Soldiers on that list can be called back if needed.  They always activate more than needed because it's expected that not everyone will be deployable.

I joined the national guard when I was in high school for the college money.  That was 3 years before I even met my future husband and 6 years before I had my son.  Between my junior and senior year at college, while I was on the IRR, I got called up to go to Iraq.  I went back home to get ready to go, where I found out I was pregos, so I didn't have to go.  They had me send them a signed letter from my ob/gyn stating that I was pregnant and what my due date was.  Until Dec 2007, I was always aware they could still call me up.  I could have very well been called up soon after my due date.

I think people that are capable of going should, but the Army should be considerate of families and should not force parents to put their kids somewhere they don't want them.  

But she didn't serve all of her time.If you were military,you are fully aware that you sign a 6-8 year contract.She served 4 years of her contract.She knew damn well,she could be called back.We wouldn't even be having this conversation if it were a man,I don't think she deserves to be treated any differently.She has a husband that is capable of taking care of her children.My husband does not like being away from our children ,but he does it because that is his job.I have had to find a different job while my husband  was deployed,so that I could work around the schedules of my 4 kids.Why should her family be any different?


anxiousschk
by anxiouss on Mar. 2, 2009 at 11:53 AM

She knew she could be called up.  She was called back up.  Such is life.  Why does she get a break?

Many men have to leave their children, why is she special?  She HAS A HUSBAND!!!! She is NOT a single parent.  There has to be a care plan in place for her children. 

I have no sympathy for her.  She knew what her contract stated.  You don't get to try and get out of it after the fact. 

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