By Martha Waggoner
The Davidson mother who reported for Army duty with her two young children will be discharged from the military, her attorney said Monday.
Attorney Mark Waple of Fayetteville said it wasn't yet clear when Lisa Pagan would be discharged. Also uncertain: whether she would get an honorable discharge or general discharge under honorable conditions, a lower designation that could rule out GI Bill benefits.
The reason for the discharge will be that she doesn't have adequate family care for her two young children, he said.
“There is definitely some feeling of relief, especially since she has been led to believe that the command at Fort Benning is going to do everything to expedite this so she can return to North Carolina, with her children,” Waple said of Pagan's reaction to the decision.
She has received no timeline “except they are trying to process it as quickly as possible,” he said.
He advised Pagan against talking to reporters until after the discharge is official.
Calls by The Associated Press to the Army were not immediately returned Monday.
Pagan was recalled to the Army four years after being released from active duty, which is allowed under the military's “individual ready reserve” program. But she says she had no one to care for her children.
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. Her appeals were rejected.
After driving 400 miles to Fort Benning, Ga., on Sunday, she reported for duty on Monday with her children, 5-year-old Elizabeth and 3-year-old Eric. Her husband Travis, whose sales job requires him to travel, stayed behind in Davidson.
Earlier Monday, Fort Benning spokesman Bob Purtiman said Pagan reported to the Army post's mobilization center that prepares individual soldiers to plug into Army units already overseas or those training to deploy. He did not know how long she was scheduled to stay at Fort Benning.
He said Fort Benning has day care services available for Pagan's children while she's there.
Pagan is among thousands of former service members recalled after leaving duty since the Sept. 11 attacks because they're on “individual ready reserve” status, meaning they have time left on their original enlistment contracts and can be recalled at any time.
Master Sgt. Keith O'Donnell, an Army spokesman in St. Louis, has said that of the 25,000 individual ready reserve troops recalled since September 2001, more than 7,500 have been granted deferments or exemptions.
About 1,000 have failed to report, and most of those cases are still under investigation, he said. Another 360 soldiers have been separated from the Army either through “other than honorable” discharges or general discharges.
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.
She always knew there was a chance she could be recalled, so she buried the thought in the back of her mind.
“When I enlisted, they said almost nobody gets called back when you're in the IRR,” she said.