U.S. Army hotline helps locate runaway husbands

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U.S. Army hotline helps locate runaway husbands

The United States Army in Korea has been running an “Abandoned Spouses Hotline” program here for a year in hopes of helping women and children stranded by their soldier-husbands, according to yesterday’s edition of the Stars and Stripes, the U.S. military’s independent news source.

The outreach program is designed to help both women unable to complete the paperwork to join their husbands at their next posts, and those whose husbands have left Korea with no apparent intention of taking their wives and children with them, said Elizabeth Samarripa, the Army Community Services outreach program coordinator for Area I, the northernmost region of Korea where U.S. military forces are stationed.

Samarripa said that it is highly improper and against Army regulations for U.S. soldiers to abandon their families, according to the Stars and Stripes.

The newspaper said that some 30 women, mostly foreign-born military wives, have benefited from the program, which located their runaway husbands.

The Stars and Stripes reported that Samarripa first tries to contact the husbands via e-mail. If those messages go unanswered, she notifies their superior officers. A U.S. soldier who does not take full responsibility for a wife and family may face a court martial, said the newspaper.

Samarripa said that the program was started in Area I because there were a number of foreign spouses in the region, according the Stars and Stripes, but she does not believe the problem is limited to this region.

Public service announcements on the military network encourage women who need assistance to call their hotline, (0505) 730-3635, the coordinator said. There, women can leave their contact information in one of five languages - Korean, English, Spanish, Russian or Tagalog, a language spoken in the Philippines.

Samarripa wants the program to become a model for other U.S. military communities around the world, the newspaper said.

By Lee Min-yong [smartpower@joongang.co.kr]
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