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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

AWOL for Kids and You Go to Jail?

Picture Courtesy of Lisa Hayes Family Friends...

This story that the Concord Monitor reported on is one that will have your “Live Free or Die” blood boiling. Apparently, the New Hampshire National Guard will only bend so far when it comes to the troops serving our nation and their own personal need to make sure that their child is safe. When the safety of the child is evident to the local police and Mom is in Iraq serving our nation then rules have to bend. This Mom is on her second tour of duty in Iraq but according to her military superiors you can only stretch the patience of the military black and white rule book so far. No matter what the circumstances are.

Here is what the Concord Monitor has to say about this…

Guard member faces prison

AWOL soldier left for her daughter
Leave Runs out before case resolved

By Joelle Farrell Concord Monitor staff
June 03. 2007

A New Hampshire National Guard soldier could face up to five years in prison on desertion charges for leaving Iraq to gain custody of her 7-year-old daughter.Spc. Lisa Hayes, 32, of Rindge, was serving her second tour in Iraq when she was notified of two violent incidents between her ex-husband and his live-in girlfriend. Hayes's ex-husband had primary guardianship of their daughter, Brystal Knight.

Hayes, a soldier serving with the 3643rd Security Forces, asked for emergency leave in February to attend a court hearing and gain custody of Brystal. But the court proceedings aren't over yet, and Hayes's leave expired in March. Hayes has asked for a hardship discharge from the Guard, saying there is no one else to care for Brystal.

"I can't serve my country at my daughter's expense," she said. "I have to be here. There's no going back."

The National Guard helped Hayes file paperwork for the discharge and offered assistance from the family support program for deployed soldiers, said Lt. Col. Francine Swan, a lawyer with the Guard. Hayes's commander, Capt. Tony Gagnon, extended her leave three times to prevent her from entering AWOL status. He told her in a March 5 correspondence that she needed to better inform her superiors in Iraq about what was going on.

First Sgt. Michael Daigle, a spokesman for the state National Guard, said custody disputes during a deployment are not unusual, and the Guard tries to help whenever possible. He said Hayes has forgone assistance and ignored counsel, leading the Army to take action.
- Concord Monitor

Let me be the first to say that this is not just a military problem but a New Hampshire Court problem. In the Live Free or Die state the speed of justice is right up there with molasses in the middle of winter. It just doesn’t flow. Expedience in justice could have been given to this woman and her child knowing that her service to our nation and our military is of utmost importance.

I honestly think that the National Guard could have cut her some more slack given the nature of her and her child’s situation and requested that her so called family need leave be added to the end of her actual tour of duty. It seems that there is more to this story and there is. Apparently, according to a close friend that called in to 96.9 FM talk radio to Eagan and Braude Show in Boston, Spc. Hayes went over her immediate commanders to get her leave of absence and that just might have pissed off the local good old boys.

When a wrong is present and your immediate report refuses to acknowledge your personal emergency then I commend Spc. Hayes for going over their heads. What parent would not do the same thing given the same situation.

How do we stop a train wreck that is about to happen here and save the little girl and her Mom that served two tours in Iraq? We call the state Congressional Members in New Hampshire and bitch. We call the Governor of New Hampshire and bitch. We call the State Senators of New Hampshire and bitch.

When a Mom that is in the military would risk her career for her children and her immediate reports don’t see the trees for the forest then there is a wrong that seriously needs to be righted.

New Hampshire State and Federal Government links...


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Blogger Mike said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:03 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

These are very difficult situations for everyone involved. There are provisions for hardship separations from the military, but they can be difficult to obtain and require a time-consuming process.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

Thanks for the comment and the link Mike.

Just an Update for everyone... Her Congressman contacted the General in charge of her command and they hope to have this situation resolved today 6/7/2007.

3:12 PM  

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