Some of our women in the military are new American heroines, having served with both sacrifice and distinction. We owe them all a debt we can never fully repay. But some of them are victims of military bureaucrats and high-ranking policy-makers who are blind to the values of our culture and deaf to the ancient call of history.
Our grandparents would have treated as a bad joke the idea that mothers of small children could be soldiers and sailors. The idea that some of them would go to war "in a family way" would have been beyond understanding. But one Navy ship became famous as "the Love Boat" when one in 10 members of the crew reported to sick call pregnant.
But with the passage of time, the unthinkable becomes the convenient, and the Army this month discharged as unfit a young woman who refused to deploy to Afghanistan because she couldn't find someone to care for her 10-month-old son.
The Army wanted to court-martial her but lost its nerve and made a humiliating retreat when Spc. Alexis Hutchinson's story became public. Shame can embarrass the mightiest warrior.
The Army first said she had plenty of time to make arrangements for her son, Kamani, but didn't, and therefore she was subject to military trial and punishment. Then the issue was magically resolved: "The soldier will not be tried by court-martial and therefore is not at risk of receiving a federal conviction," an Army spokesman said. She will be "busted" to her lowest enlisted rank, and may lose other Army and veterans' benefits. But 10-month-old Kamani will keep his mother.
She would have been charged under military Form D-A 53-05 (bureaucrats in and out of the Army love to talk this way). All soldiers are required to sign this statement that "a family care plan" has been put in place. Her lawyer said she informed the Army that her family-care plan had "fallen through" and there was no one to take care of her son and she was afraid she would lose him to a foster parent. Tough, the Army said.
No doubt. The Army is entitled to expect that its soldiers obey orders and regulations, but Hutchinson should never have been put in the position of choosing between the Army way and a mother's first obligation to her child's welfare. Any nation's army earns its unique place in respect and affection by protecting home and hearth. It can't do that when it attempts to take home and hearth to battle.