Honorable discharge for mother

From the Associated Press

A National Guard member charged with desertion while fighting for custody of her 7-year-old daughter has been granted an honorable discharge from the Army, her lawyer said Saturday.

New Hampshire Army National Guard Spc. Lisa Hayes learned of the discharge Friday at Fort Dix, N.J., where she had surrendered earlier in the week.

She and her daughter, Brystal, returned home to Rindge, N.H., early Saturday, said her lawyer, Linda Theroux.


Hayes, 32, was serving her second tour of duty in Iraq when she learned of possible domestic violence in the home of her ex-husband, Tim Knight, who had primary custody of Brystal.

According to police and Hayes, Knight was a victim in one domestic violence incident, and a second involved a fight between his mother and girlfriend.

Hayes got emergency leave to go home and won temporary custody of Brystal after a court hearing in late February.

Hayes’ commander in Iraq extended her leave briefly three times, but the last extension expired March 25. The soldier said she had no one with whom to leave her daughter and was unable to get another leave extension, a hardship discharge or a transfer to New Hampshire.

The Army declared her absent without leave on March 25 when she failed to report for duty. Thirty days later, she was charged with desertion.

After her surrender at Fort Dix on Tuesday, Army lawyers helped her refile for a hardship discharge, and it was granted within hours, Theroux said.


In the meantime, Knight had gone back to court Wednesday seeking Brystal’s return to his care. A custody hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Theroux said.