US Soldier Reports for Duty With Her Children
A North Carolina woman who was recalled to the Army four years after being honorably discharged was driving nearly 400 miles and braving a Southeastern winter storm to report for duty Sunday, with her children by her side.
Lisa Pagan was en route to Fort Benning, despite the snow, and said in a phone interview she hoped to reach the Georgia post by early evening.
“I know I’m on my way doing what I need to do,” Pagan said. “But I’m a little nervous.”
Pagan said she wasn’t expected at Fort Benning at a specific time, other than to get there by the end of the day. She said road conditions weren’t too bad, but the weather had slowed her down.
Pagan is among thousands of former service members who have left active duty since the Sept. 11 attacks, only to be recalled to service. She filed several appeals, arguing that because her husband travels for business, no one else can take care of her kids. All were rejected, leaving Pagan to choose between deploying to Iraq and abandoning her family, or refusing her orders and potentially facing charges.
Master Sgt. Keith O’Donnell, an Army spokesman in St. Louis, said earlier that the commander at Fort Benning will decide how to handle the situation.
“The Army tries to look at the whole picture and they definitely don’t want to do anything that jeopardizes the family or jeopardizes the children,” O’Donnell said. “At the same time, these are individuals who made obligations and commitments to the country.”
Of the 25,000 individual ready reserve troops recalled since September 2001, more than 7,500 have been granted deferments or exemptions, O’Donnell said. About 1,000 have failed to report. O’Donnell most of those cases are still under investigation, while 360 soldiers have been separated from the Army either through “other than honorable” discharges or general discharges.
O’Donnell said Pagan isn’t likely to face charges, since none of the individual ready reserve soldiers who have failed to report faced a court-martial.
Pagan’s husband, Travis, is staying behind in their home in Davidson to continue his job.
“He’s very supportive. He feels the same way I do,” Pagan said. “He never thought I would be called back to begin with.”
She said she has reserved a motel room for a week and didn’t plan to stay in the barracks.
“I don’t plan on them leaving my side once I’m there,” she said of her kids. “Them being away from me is not an option.”