Female Army Recruit Called a Deserter

Pvt. Erika Lopez turned herself in Thursday night
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2016 1:48 PM CST
Female Army Recruit Called a Deserter
In this Sept. 18, 2012 file photo, female soldiers training on a firing range while wearing new body armor in Fort Campbell, Ky.    (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

The Army is investigating one of the first women to sign up as an Army combat engineer after she went AWOL last fall, Fox News reports. Pvt. Erika Lopez, who is married and has two kids, was the nation's fourth woman to register as an Army combat engineer. She showed up at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri on Sept. 22 and started training about two weeks later, but went home on convalescent leave on week 11 and didn't return on Oct. 5 as expected. "After 30 days in AWOL status, a soldier is considered a deserter, and a federal warrant is issued for his or her arrest," a Fort Leonard Wood spokesman tells the Army Times. Lopez turned herself in on Thursday night.

But she was enthusiastic after enrolling this summer and becoming one of over 150 women soldiers to start training since the Army position opened up to women in June. "You make sacrifices your whole life for your children and for your family; this will be a sacrifice," she said at the time, per WVLT. "Women can do anything they set their mind to just as well as men. I don’t really see any difference at all. I hope women will want to join." (Read more US Army stories.)

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