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Thread: "Bring your kids to your recall to active duty" day?

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  1. #1
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    Oct 2007

    Default "Bring your kids to your recall to active duty" day?

    Without knowing this family or the detailed ins and outs of their situation, I can only wonder. But 9 years of experience makes me highly skeptical.

    DAVIDSON, N.C. - When Lisa Pagan reports for duty Sunday, four long years after she was honorably discharged from the Army, she will arrive with more than her old uniform. She is bringing her kids, too.

    "I have to bring them with me," she said. "I don't have a choice."

    Pagan is among thousands of former service members who have left active duty since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, only to later receive orders to return to service. They are not in training, they are not getting a Defense Department salary, but as long as they have time left on their original enlistment contracts, they are on "individual ready reserve" status — eligible to be recalled at any time.

    Soldiers can appeal, and some have won permission to remain in civilian life. Pagan 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 with what she says is a choice between deploying to Iraq and abandoning her family, or refusing her orders and potentially facing charges.


    Pagan, who grew up near Camden, N.J., was working in a department store when she made her commitment in September 2002. She learned how to drive a truck, and met Travis while stationed in Hawaii. She had her first child while in uniform, and they left the service in 2005 when their enlistments were up.
    - from
    My favorite line from the article...
    She always knew there was a chance she could be recalled, so she buried the thought in the back of her mind.
    A fine strategy.

  2. #2

  3. #3
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    Mar 2008


    J Wolfsberger,

    I just want to say that getting on-base child-care only covers about 12 hours a day maximum. If she is deployed in Iraq and the husband is on the road for work, then base day-care is not a solution. And even then, there is never enough base day care and there is usually a long waiting list to get on.

    Since this woman's extended family is not local, the choice is either to provide a non-family member (neighbor or friend) with the legal authority and responsibility for the kids, send them out-of-state to the extended family, or have the husband quit his job. Those are not easy choices and are not always possible.

    I have faced similar problems since my wife is active duty (I've been in the guard/reserve for about 8 years now - I got off active duty after meeting my wife because of the challenges to dual-military families). We have been lucky that my mother-in-law has been able to come down and care for the kids when we both have been TDY or deployed. I don't know what we would have done otherwise, so I'm very sympathetic to this family's situation, particularly since she's getting called up from the IRR. Personally, if it were not for my mother-in-law as the interim guardian for our kids, I would probably not be in the service today because we'd have a very hard time finding someone to fill that role in the case where we're both ordered away. We have to keep a detailed family-care plan, along with all the necessary power-of-attorney's, etc., updated continuously with both our commands - it is a requirement. I assume the Army has similar requirements.

    Ken has spoken eloquently here about the US military's 1940's personnel and management system. Well, here is an example where that model meets the reality of the 21st century family. That old model is built on the assumption of a "nuclear" family with a single, male military wage-earner and an at-home spouse being the norm. That's not the case anymore and this story is another example of that broken system IMO.
    Last edited by Entropy; 03-01-2009 at 08:14 PM.

  4. #4
    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    Jun 2006


    I wonder if the Montgomery GI bill is paying for those classes at Fayetteville State? "I joined for the benefits" is always a good deal until one has to live up to his/her obligations. Harsh, maybe. Fair, definitely. There's alot of mil-to-mil folks dealing with the same thing.
    -john bellflower

    Rule of Law in Afghanistan

    "You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)

  5. #5
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Jul 2006


    When I met my wife, we were both on active duty. I was an 11B and she was a 91W. She opted to get out when she became pregnant with our second child. Shortly thereafter I joined the Special Forces and we were stationed in Germany. She was recalled to active duty but was granted an exemption because she had a husband who was stationed in overseas with a unit that deployed a lot. There was no way that we could have met the requirements for a family care plan. My parents were elderly and not able to take care of two small children. My brother could not afford to take on two more children and I doubt that he would have even been willing for any length of time greater than maybe a month or two. Her family was, out of the question. My wife is not one to shirk her duty and is even planning to return to active duty when I retire in two years, but she feels that her duty to her children outweighs everything else. I agree.
    I sympathize with this woman. I can guarantee that there are plenty of people out there on IRR who do not have this kind of situation who can fill this role. I cannot, for the life of me, see why they are pushing this so hard. Do they honestly think that she had kids just to get out of her service obligations? I have always thought that the IRR concept was ridiculous. How can anyone plan their post military life around the small possibility that they might be recalled to active duty? Recruiters always, always, always downplay the possibility. I honestly believe that if more people actually thought that this might happen then fewer would join.
    As for on post child care, Entropy is correct. It is great, when it is there. On every post that I have been on it is usually open from 0600 to 1700 or 1730 Monday to Friday. Period. Most have a rule to the effect that you are charged a dollar for every minute after closing that you are late and they will call the MPs and/or your commander if you are over a certain time late (usually 15 minutes if memory serves). They are closed on most holidays and all weekends. The care is exemplary while your child is there but it doesn't really help the single parent who has to work nights or weekends nor does it help one who has to deploy.

    SFC W

  6. #6
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    Oct 2007


    Does her recall to active duty necessarily mean that she will deploy? I know lots of people on active duty who are stateside and their duty hours fall well within the hours of the post daycare center. I think she's got a good case for not deploying. But a case for not being recalled to active duty? Is free health care and job security in this rough economy - both of which are benefits of fulfilling an obligation that she already accepted - such a hardship?

    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    Do they honestly think that she had kids just to get out of her service obligations?
    My hunch is that you are asking that rhetorically, but I think it is a good question. On the other hand, it is anyone's guess and I doubt that anyone wants to ask it or investigate it. I wouldn't. But, with that in mind, I would second the earlier comment about the personnel system needing to catch up with today's norms.

    I know two married couples for whom a pregnancy was unplanned and precluded the wives from deploying. The realization that they could not deploy with their subordinates (both were officers) was only overshadowed by the joy of another child. But I also know that pregnancies in our MSB and FSB's had an uncanny correlation with deployments, to include NTC rotations prior to OIF or combat deployments once OIF kicked off - often times the pregnant Soldiers were not married and were hard pressed to narrow down the list of possible baby-daddies to what a reasonable person would regard as a short list. The size of the pregnant PT formation should be considered an EEFI because it is the best indicator of a unit's deployment timeline.

    Our current system seems to be an honor system that lacks any honor code by which it can be self-policing. There are legitimate unplanned pregnancies, to be sure. But the number of unmarried Soldiers who fill the ranks of the pregnant PT formation, coincidentally at the same opportune time, many of whom cannot say with certainty who impregnated them, suggests that the honor system is being taken advantage of.

  7. #7
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    May 2007

    Default The Armed Forces and DoD are still operating on the post

    WW II model. It was out of date in the 60s and has only gotten worse. The IRR concept is flawed -- badly. The 'eight year service obligation' on entry is dumb and I could go on for hours about other things. Not least that DoD continues to financially reward people for getting married.

    I see both side of this one -- a contract is a contract and a little thought would have precluded a problem. Conversely, the lady got out and got on with her life -- and now the system that has not caught up with the present day has snared her. I hope she and / or the Army can work something out.

    The whole system needs a massive shakeup.

  8. #8
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    Sep 2008

    Default Just to clarify

    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    That old model is built on the assumption of a "nuclear" family with a single, male military wage-earner and an at-home spouse being the norm. That's not the case anymore and this story is another example of that broken system IMO. the modern family the broken system or is the Army?
    The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools.

    ---A wise old Greek
    Leadership is motivating hostile subordinates to execute a superior's wish you don't agree with given inadequate resources and insufficient time while your peers interfere.

  9. #9
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    Jun 2007
    Newport News, VA


    Quote Originally Posted by sapperfitz82 View Post the modern family the broken system or is the Army?
    Precisely this.
    He cloaked himself in a veil of impenetrable terminology.


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