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Soldier's fate still in doubt


Spc. Simone Holcomb with her seven children. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Spc. Simone Holcomb with her seven children.

The Army says it won't punish a Fort Carson soldier who stayed home to take care of her children instead of returning to service in Iraq.

Instead, Spc. Simone Holcomb, a Colorado National Guard medic activated for service in Iraq, will be released back to the Guard at Fort Carson, the Army announced in a Nov. 14 news release.

But the military has given Holcomb no guarantees that she won't face any disciplinary action by the Guard after she's transferred, said her attorney, Giorgio Ra'Shadd.

Ra'Shadd noted the Army has announced that Holcomb's "National Guard chain of command will determine the ultimate resolution of this situation." That chain includes a major who recently tried to charge Holcomb with being absent without leave and disobeying orders.

And rather than being transferred back to the Guard, Holcomb had formally requested a "compassionate reassignment" to Fort Carson. That would have allowed her to continue collecting active-duty pay and to "do her job," Ra'Shadd said. But as of Tuesday, the Army still hadn't formally responded to her request.

Holcomb's case drew international media attention earlier this month when the Army threatened to prosecute her for being absent without leave, after she decided to stay with her seven children rather than return to Iraq. [See "Officially AWOL," Nov. 6, at]. She and her husband, Army Sgt. Vaughn Holcomb, had both been deployed to Iraq, leaving their children in the care of Vaughn's mother. But the two came home on emergency leave in September to deal with a custody dispute.

While they were home, Vaughn's mother had to return to Ohio to take care of her husband, who has cancer. That, Simone Holcomb says, forced her to stay home with the children.

Ra'Shadd says Holcomb might still face a less-than-honorable discharge.

"A less-than-honorable punishes her because her father-in-law has a terminal illness," Ra'Shadd said. "That's crazy."

-- Terje Langeland

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