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Mom chooses son over service

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Mom chooses son over deployment
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Spc. Alexis Hutchinson refuses deployment orders to stay with son
  • Hutchinson claims plans for mother to take care of her child fell through
  • Army says Hutchinson had plenty of time to come up with alternate plans

(CNN) -- To hear Spc. Alexis Hutchinson tell it, the Army forced her to make an agonizing choice between serving her country and taking care of her son.

The Army, however, takes issue with the soldier's story and Hutchinson could now be facing serious charges for desertion.

When her unit deployed to Afghanistan earlier in November, Hutchinson was missing from the plane. Her lawyer said she refused to go because there was no one to take care of her 10-month-old son, Kamani, and she feared he would be placed in foster care.

The Army said the young mother had plenty of time to sort out family issues and has been confined to her post at Fort Stewart, Georgia, while an investigation unfolds.

Before shipping overseas, every soldier must sign military Form D-A 53-05, which states that failure to maintain a family care plan could result in disciplinary action.

Hutchinson had agreed to such a plan and her mother, Angelique Hughes, took in Kamani in a month before Hutchinson's deployment date.

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RELATED TOPICS
  • U.S. Army
  • Afghanistan
  • Georgia

But after a week with the infant, Hughes, who cares for ailing relatives and runs a day-care out of her home, said she felt so overwhelmed that she backed out.

"It was that hard, because he's a very busy baby," Hughes told CNN affiliate WTOC in Savannah, Georgia. "You have to keep an eye on him 24 hours a day."

Hutchinson's attorney, Rai Sue Sussman, said the soldier informed the Army that her family care plan had fallen through and that there was no one to take care of Kamani.

Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson said Hutchinson's unit had known for months about its pending deployment and that it wasn't until the last minute that Hutchinson notified the Army of her child-care woes.

Like all soldiers who face similar circumstances, Hutchinson received a 30-day extension back in August and September, Larson said.

That's "plenty of time," he said, "to work out another care plan."

On the eve of her unit's departure, Hutchinson was ordered to be on the plane.

"That's when it put her in this horrible situation of having to choose between abandoning her child or disobeying her superiors," Sussman said.

"The sense I got from her and the reason I think why she was scared enough to not go and get on her plane was because they would take her child from her."

Less than 24 hours after her fellow soldiers took off from Hunter Army Airfield, Hutchinson turned herself in and was arrested by military police. No charges have been filed.

More than 30,000 single mothers have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, according to a new report compiled by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Former Air Force JAG Officer Michelle McCleur said Hutchinson is not likely to win a legal battle with the Army.

"When soldiers are ordered to deploy, and single soldiers included, they have to have a family care plan in place ... and they need to implement that," she said.

CNN's Brian Todd and Campbell Brown contributed to this report