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Soldier to be Discharged after Reporting for Duty with Kids

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CNN: A soldier who reported for duty with her children in tow has been granted her request for a discharge, her lawyer said Monday.

Lisa Pagan, of Davidson, North Carolina, reported for duty Monday morning at Fort Benning, Georgia, with her two preschool children. She had been honorably discharged from active duty at the rank of specialist nearly four years ago but was recalled as part of the Individual Ready Reserve program.

The former Army truck driver asked for a reprieve from deployment because her husband travels for business and they would have no one to care for their children if she was sent overseas. Until Monday, her request had been denied.

Late Monday afternoon, Pagan's lawyer told CNN the Army would grant her request and begin the process of discharge again, this time for good.

"We are definitely heading in the right direction for Lisa and her family and her children," said Mark Waple, Pagan's attorney. "She has been told by her chain of command they plan on doing everything they can within reason to do this as expeditiously as possible."

Pagan enlisted in 2002 and was honorably discharged from active duty in June 2005. She was never deployed.

Before she left for Fort Benning, Pagan, 27, told CNN affiliate WCNC that her relatives weren't able to care for her children for various reasons, including her relatives' health.

She said her family couldn't afford having her husband give up his job. They would lose their house, she told the Charlotte, North Carolina-TV station.

"I'm a human being. I need to take care of my children. They don't have anybody else," Pagan told WCNC.

Since September 11, 2001, the Army has recalled about 25,000 soldiers. Nearly half requested a delay or a full exemption. Some just wanted to finish their school semester before reporting. Others had financial or medical problems that made it difficult to report for duty.

The Army says it granted nearly nine out of 10 delay requests and six out of 10 requests for exemption.

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10 comments so far | Post a comment now
Melony March 3, 2009, 11:21 AM

I don’t understand this issue. When I see a mother of a service member angry that her son or daughter is being deployed to a hostile country or a mother stating she can’t deploy because of her family, it angers and embarrasses me.
I am a female service member with a family. I can assure you, first hand, that every service member knows that they have the responsibility to deploy without notice. That’s what they signed a contract to do. If they didn’t think they could handle this, then they should have found a different profession.
I am interested in what kinds of programs this woman took part in while in the service. Did she get a bonus for joining the Army, did she get additional money because she has a family, was she eligible for base housing, did she receive education benefits such as tuition assistance and the GI Bill, did she learn a skill that she will use when discharged, did she use base services such as daycare, housing, exchange and commissary privileges, space A seating on aircraft, or 30 days of leave every year. I would imagine that she did. Many people join the military for these privileges. That is what they are, privileges. They give you these entitlements with the stipulation that you abide by your contract. It is a give and take. Additionally, we as taxpayers are paying for these entitlements that this woman has in effect stolen.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that many people join because they want to protect their great country, but these men and women would be declining a deployment in this very public way. They would be eager and proud to serve their country.
We are one of the only countries in this world with a volunteer military. With that being said, this woman should not be granted an honorable discharge. By doing so, the military is tarnishing the reputation of members with an honorable discharge and those hoping to receive an honorable discharge at the completion of their contract agreement. An honorable discharge means that you have sacrificed for the good of your country and democracy.

Anonymous March 3, 2009, 11:41 AM

I disagree. I too am a female service member of 2 branches, and dpending on the situation, it might not be possible for her to deploy. She never stated that she didn’t want to go, but that she couldnt. You need to understand that regardless of the commitment we all make as military members, that once you get out, your situation can change in a blink of an eye. As a parent, you need to do what is best for your children. In this economy, it is imparitive that we make sure we make the best decisions possible pertaining to our family. If there is no one left to care for you children, what would you do? Leave them with a stranger? I highly doubt it. Given her circumstances, she had no choice. Everyone has a different situation, that is what needs to be understood here. Obviously the Army understood that, and they evaluate their decisions based on the facts. So this what was best for her.

GHR March 3, 2009, 11:46 AM

Don’t be a member of the Individual Ready Reserve if you can’t serve.

Steven March 3, 2009, 12:14 PM

My brother is being deployed. He has a 3 year old daughter. His wife works full time. He’ll leave in April. He really wants to stay and take care of his daughter. His wife really doesn’t want to stay to here and take care of their daughter alone. I’m confused about this story. Is Lisa Pagans husband unwilling to share in the sacrifice that his wife committed too? Is our military that sexist? really?

Shades March 3, 2009, 12:33 PM

My apologies if I appear dispassionate, but this as an organizational leadership (or lack thereof) issue. It shouldn’t have gotten to the point at which the veteran felt she had to force the issue w/ her kids.

Post-sep mobilization is a personnel management tool ill-suited to non-national emergency scenarios. At this late stage and steady state of ops, the Army shouldn’t have to be resorting to using it.

I talk privately to a lot of Army buddies who would get lynched for their opinions that the Army needs to abandon their primary deployment doctrine based on huge divisions and whole units, and increase their ability to deploy individual skills, if necessary, like the AF does it. Currently, you can’t deploy an Army truck driver unless you deploy the whole combat org/unit that owns the whole unit that owns the truck driver.

This little vignette is indicative of the Army’s need to seriously re-tool their orgs and expeditionary concepts of operation, to say nothing of how they utilize the Reserve force.

Courtney March 3, 2009, 8:31 PM

I am a mother and I serve in the Army and have for the past 4 years. My husband is in the Marine Corps, and he is currently a recuriter. If you don’t know, a recruiters scheduel is nuts! On average he works 16 hours a day, with only Sunday off. I know that if I were to get deployed my husband would not be able to care for our son, thats why the military invented the “family care plan”. Because I know if a deployment would come up for me, theres no way I would be able to get out of it, and I woudln’t want to. I signed that contract therefore I should have to take what comes with it. If she served on active duty then she should have definately known about the family care plan. She new that it was a possibility that she would deploy even in IRR, so it was her responsibility to arrange someone to be able to care for a her children. Being a parent and in the military is not an easy job especially if both parents are in service like my situation, but it was her choice to join and her choice to have children she should have thought about all of this before she made those decisions. Another thing, it said that she served on active duty for 4 years and never deployed?! She was a truck driver how is that possible? I’ve been in 4 years and I’ve deployed twice and the same goes for my husband, hes been in 6 years and deployed three times and hes logistics. It makes me wonder how many other excuses she’s come up with to get out of a deployment.

Anonymous March 7, 2009, 8:58 AM

I disagree. My husband is set to deploy in the summer and I am going to graduate in May and cannot begin my career as we had planned because he will be gone and not here to help with the children, we have 3. When you are a military spouse you have to be committed to caring for the kids and keeping the house and other things running while your husband/wife is gone. It’s an understanding when you marry a soldier or when the spouse enlists. My husband has been in 6 years and is in infantry training so this is his first deployment as well. It is hard and I am dreading it, but we have to do it. I think her husband needs to take some time off of work or reduce his travel time some so he too can fulfill his obligation to his country. I am sure that in this economy his company could cut down some for him, but they most definitely should quit using their children as media pawns to further their agenda.

Army Wife March 8, 2009, 12:31 PM

Have to agree with with Melony and Courtney. My feelings exactly regarding the family plan. My own opinion is she took the kids with her not because there really was no other place for them but she was playing on some kind of sympathy. Boohoo (read lots of sarcasm in that boohoo). I find it hard to fathom that this woman has no family anywhere, i.e., no parents, no brothers/sisters in order to put out an adequate family plan. Give me a freaking break!

I know several single Soliders with children (women, mind you) who have a family plan in place and have deployed. This woman’s discharge should have been dishonorable. She’s a disgrace. MHO!!

Army Wife

Heather April 30, 2009, 5:52 PM

I am also a service member in the USN and I disagree with most of you but agree on SOME points that were made. At this moment I am pregnant and going through A LOT at the command I am with. I agree that if she has been in the service for a few years, then yes she should have known about the family care plan. As for myself, I cannot say the same. I didn’t even KNOW what a family care plan was until I became pregnant. Not once in bootcamp, A-School, or when I got to my first command did they have a presentation about if you get pregnant, this is what will happen. As for Army Wife, you have no idea what her situation is. You say that you can’t believe that she doesn’t have ANY family to help take care of her children. Well I can’t believe some people can be so simple minded. There are LOTS of people out there who don’t have anyone, grew up on the streets, or just came from a really small family. I don’t think it’s fair for you to call her a disgrace when you have NO idea what she is going through. Even if she does have family members, it does not mean that they are WILLING to take care of another child. What I don’t understand about her story though, is that it says both of her children are pre-school age, why is she now just trying to leave the service? Or has then been an issue since her children were born? Either way, I completey agree with Anonymous (second post). Yes she signed up to serve her country, but I personally believe that your children come first, NO MATTER WHAT. Like she said, if you’re not going to care for your children, who will? My child will be my ULTIMATE responsibility regardless of my status in the service. I kind of think it’s a shame that more of you don’t understand that. You have to do what you have to do to take care of your children, bottom line.

Grwvajie June 22, 2009, 3:58 PM

PGwI92 comment5 ,

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