In U.S. Army vs. Kids, Who Wins?

BlogHer Original Post

Lisa Pagan, a mother of two and a former soldier, is probably ready for her 15 minutes to be over, especially since everyone seems to have an opinion about her 'Army vs. kids' dilemma.

Pagan was an active duty military member who was honorably discharged several years ago, but contractually was still in the "ready reserves." About a year ago, she got word that the Army wanted her back. But with two small children, a husband who is required to travel a lot for work and no family members who could apparently help out, she petitioned for the Army to let her off the hook. They said no, so she decided to report for duty with kids in tow to see what would happen.

On the question of not having anyone to leave her children with if she had to be gone for months or years, I can relate. If I had to be gone for a year, we would have a serious problem with child care. My parents are not at a point in their lives where they could really care for PunditGirl. Other members of my family certainly wouldn't be in a position to give up or cut back on their jobs to care for her. And Mr. PunditMom travels enough for work that just hiring a babysitter wouldn't really cut it in terms of taking care of a nine-year-old.

Even with travel for work, the The XX Factor, wants to know why Pagan's husband isn't stepping up more:

But where's her husband in all of this? Off traveling for work, apparently, with no creative solutions or sacrifices to make it work out. Seems to me like he'd have better luck showing up for work with the kids than she would. Which goes to show that while the military is not for everyone, neither is being a military spouse. It's just as much of a full-time job, and to do it well you have to be willing to submit your own goals and career to your significant other ... .

Over at Strollerderby, they're looking at this from a different angle --what's the burden on the social services system if the dad, who has spent time as active military in Iraq himself, had to quit his job to care for their children:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Army is a branch of the government, correct? And if a guy has to quit his job to stay home with his kids - putting the family without an income - then the government would be stuck footing their welfare bill.

Others have no sympathy, saying Pagan knew what she was signing up for and she just has to figure it out somehow. Still others think the Army should have paid more attention to the facts of this particular situation -- if life circumstances change, especially when it comes to alternate child care, what's a family to do?

So who should win out -- the military or the kids? Is this a problem of Pagan's own making and we should say, too bad you have to deal with it somehow like so many other families, military and otherwise have to, or is it a bigger issue that the military has when changing family situations create this sort of dilemma?

Ultimately, after Pagan got to Fort Bragg, the Army decided to grant her previously denied requests for discharge from ready service, a practice that's been called the back door draft, and was rarely used before the George Bush administration and his foray into Iraq. But this isn't a problem that's going to go away.

In this instance, one family probably knew that a little media attention might help their cause, and it did. But there are many others whose life circumstances have changed, as well, since they first signed on the military dotted line. I'm afraid that means there are going to be many more children who have to pay the price for a system that is either inflexible or outdated.

BlogHer News & Politics Contributing Editor Joanne Bamberger likes to spread the political wealth around the blogosphere! You can also find her at her place, PunditMom, as well as The Huffington Post, MOMocrats, MomsRising and more!

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