Sgt. Tim Robinson will get the extra time he requested to spend with his dying mother in a Decatur hospital instead of returning to Iraq. In fact, he may get even more.
After initially being denied an extra week of leave, Robinson told The Decatur Daily on Thursday he now expects that he won't be returning to Iraq but will be at a U.S. base for his final five months in the Army.
Robinson, 39, has five months left before his retirement.
U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Huntsville, whose office had worked with the Army on Robinson's behalf, said the soldier's situation had "touched all of us."
Cramer said he spoke with Robinson on Thursday and described him as "extremely happy and relieved" that he's not facing any deadline to leave his mother.
The developments came as the American Red Cross on Wednesday filed a request for a two-week extension for the soldier's emergency leave. That filing came after Robinson, expecting to go back to Iraq, said goodbye to his mother, Katie Mae Jones, who is terminally ill and on life-support at Decatur General Hospital.
But his father, Al Robinson, said his son could not get a flight out of Huntsville International Airport on Tuesday. The soldier then delayed his departure another day in anticipation of getting the extension sought by the Red Cross.
Robinson serves with the military police at Camp Bucca, a large prison in Iraq. He joined the Army in the late 1980s.
Sheila Brazelton, Red Cross assistant director in charge of Armed Forces emergencies, said she filed the soldier's extension request before 3 p.m. Wednesday. The request first goes to Fort Sill, Okla., which sends it to the soldier's command unit.
Brazelton has handled the soldier's case since March 12, when Robinson's brother requested an emergency leave on behalf of his brother.
The Army asks that the Red Cross supply the sick family member's diagnosis, prognosis, condition, life expectancy and doctor's recommendation. The Army approved Robinson's initial request even without the recommendation of Jones' doctor, who was out of town at the time, Brazelton said.
Robinson was able to get a four-day extension on his own, after his mother's condition worsened, Brazelton said.