- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2003

FORT CARSON, Colo. (AP) — A soldier who stayed home with her children during a custody battle instead of returning to Iraq was reassigned to Fort Carson, but also received a conflicting message — that she could face administrative punishment.

Spc. Simone Holcomb, a medic in the Colorado National Guard, was reassigned Monday to Fort Carson to give her time to find care for her children or leave the Army, post spokesman Lt. Col. Tom Budzyna said.

“She’s been reassigned to Fort Carson for compassionate reasons and she’s in the process of being demobilized from active-duty status to National Guard status,” Col. Budzyna said late Monday.

However, Spc. Holcomb’s commander called her earlier Monday from Iraq to tell her he was pursuing an administrative punishment against her, said Spc. Holcomb’s lawyer, Giorgio Ra’Shadd. It was not clear what the punishment would be.

“They didn’t give a reason. A commander in the field doesn’t really have to give a reason,” Mr. Ra’Shadd told Fox News.

Spc. Holcomb, 30, and her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Vaughn Holcomb, 40, were living with their children at Fort Carson near Colorado Springs when both were sent to Iraq in February.

Family members were taking care of their seven children, but the couple returned on emergency leave in September when Sgt. Holcomb’s ex-wife went to court seeking full custody of two of the children from their marriage.

Spc. Holcomb told a judge she would stay home with the children and refused an Army order to return to Iraq.

Her reassignment to Fort Carson was backdated to Oct. 10, the day she was due back in Iraq, which means she couldn’t be charged with being absent without leave, Col. Budzyna said.

Mr. Ra’Shadd and Col. Budzyna said they were trying to sort out the conflicting messages.

“Common sense is going to prevail in this matter. We are going to take care of the soldier,” Col. Budzyna said.

Spc. Holcomb referred questions to Mr. Ra’Shadd. He did not return a call seeking comment late Monday or yesterday.

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