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AWOL Mom Can Stay In U.S., But ...

A soldier who stayed home with her children during a custody battle rather than returning to Iraq was reassigned to Fort Carson, but also received a conflicting message — that she could face criminal charges.

Spc. Simone Holcomb, a medic in the Colorado National Guard, was reassigned Monday to Fort Carson to give her time to find care for her children or get out of the Army, post spokesman Lt. Col. Tom Budzyna said.

"She's been reassigned to Fort Carson for compassionate reasons and she's in the process of being demobilized from active duty status to National Guard status," Budzyna said late Monday.

Holcomb, 30, and her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Vaughn Holcomb, 40, lived with their children at Fort Carson near Colorado Springs when both were sent to Iraq in February.

Family members were taking care of their seven children, but the couple returned on emergency leave in September when Vaughn Holcomb's ex-wife went to court to get full custody of two of the children from their previous marriage.

Simone Holcomb told a judge she would stay home with the children and refused an Army order to return to Iraq.

Her reassignment to Fort Carson was backdated Oct. 10, the day she was due back in Iraq, which means she couldn't be charged with being absent without leave, Budzyna said.

But a commander in Iraq called Holcomb on Monday, gave her an administrative punishment and read her her legal rights for possible criminal charges, Simone Holcomb's attorney, Giorgio Ra'Shadd, told The Gazette of Colorado Springs.

It was not immediately clear what the administrative punishment was or what criminal charges she might face.

Ra'Shadd and Budzyna said they were trying to sort out the conflicting messages.

"Common sense is going to prevail in this matter. We are going to take care of the soldier," Budzyna said.

Simone Holcomb referred questions to Ra'Shadd. He did not return a telephone message late Monday.

Earlier, she told CBS affiliate KCNC in Denver: "I let them know I couldn't come back. I do have this responsibility."

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