I first caught wind of the story of the soldier who "refused deployment" two weeks ago over at the forums on Our Mom Spot and my initial response was to call shenanigans. Yes. There. I said it. I Call Shenanigans.
Since then, I've seen it posted and re-posted 10,002 times and it has, of course, touched of firestorms on Mommy Forums and War Forums alike. It has also had me seeing red. I can't actually read any of the forums discussing this article because I'll go nuclear. So, I would like to take this time and space to clear the air. Consider this my blanket response to the people who have asked my opinon directly on the matter - and my response to the wingnuts frothing at their e-mouths all across the great, wide internetz...
1. This soldier didn't refuse to deploy. She intentionally failed to get on the plane under orders. Part of her enlistment oath said something about "obeying and upholding" all "lawful orders"...can't quite get the verbiage straight in my head, but since I have taken the same oath 4 times now (initial and re-enlistments), I do recall those words being strung together in approximate order. Anyhoo - that she decided not to show up to the airport does, if I recall rightly, make her AWOL, possibly a deserter and definitely in violation of a couple of UCMJ articles, as well as at least one General Order.
2. Now that we've cleared the air on those finer points, let's dig in:
a. Every single parent in the military, as well as every parent married to another military member, is required to complete a Family Care Plan. This soldier had one. She enacted it. Her designated provider for her son decided that she couldn't "do it" for a year and went trucking back to GA to hand over the infant. This is where, by the way, I would like to ask her designated provider, the soldier's mother, why she agreed to this plan. Did she think that this was a game?
b. Army Regulation 600-20 gives detailed guidance for units and leadership on the FCP and other requirements for single parents and pregnant soldiers. It says that soldiers who fail to provide a workable FCP should be considered for separation from the service and are not deployable. It also notes that pregnant soldiers are to be given the option to voluntarily separate from the service at the time of their pregnancy, with honor (this means that they're eligible for all follow on benefits). I can personally attest to this since, during both pregnancies, I had to fill in this "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" paperwork. In both instances, I elected to stay.
c. AR 600-20 finally states that any FCP found to be unworkable when implemented will be reassessed and amended within 30 days (longer at the discretion of the commander, up to 90 days). If a workable plan cannot be created, the member will be separated from the service.
In short, this soldier's FCP failed. There are other options besides disobeying an order and going AWOL in this case and there's no real evidence yet that she tried to do the right thing.
Now, maybe it's because I'm anal. Maybe I'm heartless...but I have no pity for this soldier. I've had to have a FCP and it's something that a lot of thought went in to. My first thought was, what if my primary designee can't do it? There are, in fact, sections to designate alternates and alternates to alternates and so on ad infinitum. In fact, in the Special Power of Attorney I filled in to accompany the FCP, there are further designees I chose to add in case something happened.
It's not a piece of paper that you just fill in with some names because you need to check a box to be world wide qualified. It's something that needs to be considered and discussed with all potential designees - and everyone needs to fully understand what agreeing to care for the child or children will mean, as well as what may happen to the military member if the designee does an about face just before the boots hit the sand, but just after the plane's taken off, so to speak.
But here's the thing that's really sticking me in the side: The claim that she was told she would have to place the child in foster care by her commanding officer. I've known some jerks in command in my time. I've even known one or two who have only one or two brain cells fizzing around their heads and one of those two cells is wearing a tinfoil membrane and declaring itself to be the dead Duchess of Borogravia (the other cell generally appears to be in hiding from it's mate). Yet, even THEY aren't foolish or crazy enough to say something like that to a soldier, especially in this current climate where such a statement will assuredly come to the public's knowledge and probably end your career.
As an aside, if this commander really did say that and we find out that it was true, I will do 100 push ups a day for 100 days while chanting, "This Sergeant Doesn't Deserve Her Stripes". You can take that to the bank because I know that I'm supposed to care about the junior enlisted and look out for them. It's what we NCOs (are supposed to) do. And by publicly calling Shenaningans on this, I know that I'm not.
I just find it very hard to believe any of this. The first we hear of it is in a public release by her lawyer, after the Soldier lawyered up to begin with...it reminds me of the AWOL turn-in we had at my place of work a few years back. He showed up on a bus, chartered by family, filled with friends and relatives and just about every news agency in the Greater Boston Area on hand to document his story. It was designed specifically to embarass the military and ensure an expeditious discharge from the military (he deserted while on leave from Iraq). I'm having deja vu with this case too.
Oh! To the individuals who have called for all pregnant women to be discharged from service or who are using this to further your own flawed arguments about why women shouldn't serve period, please go to hell and give the devil my regards. To the military women out there, one and all, who feed these idiots' fires with silly stunts that go viral, feel free to join them and let the remainder of us not suffer the fallout that will surely happen in cases like this.
That's my not so nice opinion on this case. Do you have one?