- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I don’t know why I joined the Army. I guess I was influenced by my mother and the bad economy. I’m from a small town in Mississippi where there are no jobs except for the very few factory jobs that people leave to their children when they die or a job at the local Piggly Wiggly grocery store.

My mother needed help with bills because every month one or more of our utilities were being turned off. I got so tired of living like that, and I decided to talk with a recruiter. He made everything sound so great, especially the bonus. I got a $10,000 bonus for a four-year enlistment.

He also told me I would not have to deploy because everyone is pulling out of Iraq and they are not sending women to Afghanistan. I reported to my unit in spring 2008 and was immediately told I am going to Afghanistan later this year. When I told them what my recruiter said, they all laughed at me.

I am scared and devastated. Another woman in my unit who is a single mother told me pregnant women can’t get deployed. I decided to get pregnant to avoid deployment. Now my situation is worse than it was. I have a child to take care of and no father to help me and I’m still getting deployed.

Who is supposed to take care of my daughter while I am deployed? It’s not fair to make us leave our children alone, to go to another country and take care of other people. Is the Army going to take care of my daughter if something happens to me? — I Ain’t Going!

Dear Going,

Let me give you some quick advice: It’s time for you to stop listening to other people and start taking some responsibility for your actions.

I know you have television in Mississippi. You must have seen the news or another show that has highlighted all the single parents who are deployed. Do you think they feel like it’s fair they are away from their children? They don’t like it either, but they are committed to the mission. No, pregnant women don’t deploy — to my knowledge — but they will after the child is born.

Here’s the deal, you enlisted for four years, you completed basic training and you took the bonus money. Trust me, you are going as soon as you get orders to do so.

I know you might be scared or have many different emotions — which is normal — but you have to start building a family care plan now. All military personnel must have one, even married service members. You must identify someone who is responsible and trustworthy to take care of your daughter in your absence.

I know this won’t be easy and you won’t like leaving your daughter in someone else’s care. However, it wasn’t right to have a child with someone you didn’t know just to avoid deployment. You said the father is not helping you. Do you even know who fathered your child? I’m not trying to be mean, but it’s the truth.

There are resources on your base that would be glad to help you. Get involved with them immediately. Contact the Army Community Service on your base. I’m sure they have a deployment mobilization program that will give you some ideas and help you start a family plan. I know this is a stressful time for you, but stop making hasty decisions. Hang in there!

Reader responses to previous columns:

• Hi Ms. Vicki, I think the husband with the intoxicated wife (May 3) needs to put his foot down and give his wife a complete ultimatum; order her to stop working at the bar and get into some treatment. There is plenty out there for spouses, too. In my opinion, he is helping her behavior by standing by and watching what she is doing. There’s no way I would sit back and allow my wife to do something that would be embarrassing to me and cause everyone in my unit to talk about her and my family. — Put Your Wife In Check

• Ms. Vicki thank you for telling the service member that his wife needs help to deal with her drinking problem. It’s not his fault, but he cannot enable her. You also advised him to contact Military OneSource. I am a counselor for Military OneSource. Thanks so much for giving our organization a plug and supporting what we do. — A Fellow Counselor

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