A warning memo was released on November 16 by the Secretary of the Army; soldiers in the National Guard who refuse to get vaccinated against the coronavirus risk having their service in the guard terminated and their benefits terminated, according to New York Times. COVID-19 vaccine-refusing soldiers will no longer be eligible for re-enlistment or promotion, effectively ending their military service.
Army Vaccine Mandate
Soldiers’ service records will be flagged the day after they make their final vaccine refusal, according to a memo signed by Army Secretary Christine Wormuth on November 16. However, Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Mancino, Oklahoma’s newly appointed adjutant general for the National Guard, announced last week on behalf of Governor Kevin Stitt that guardsmen in the state would not be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
According to Defense One, President Joe Biden’s directive that all federal employees, including troops on the ground, be vaccinated was rebuffed by Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt, who told National Guard members in his state that they need not comply with the directive.
Airmen in Oklahoma have 89 percent of their vaccinations completed, but only 40 percent of Army National Guard members have done the same. The Army National Guard’s vaccination deadline is coming up next month. For the first time, all of the military’s branches have been given the authority to set their vaccination deadlines and penalties for soldiers who refuse to get vaccinated.
John F. Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, said at a news conference said that Guardsmen play an essential role in maintaining national security, making it imperative that they receive these vaccines. In the absence of an official exemption, refusing the COVID-19 vaccine puts National Guardsmen in the same danger as active-duty personnel who refuse vaccinations, as per the U.S. Department of Defense.
In the vast majority of cases, National Guard troops are under Title 32, which means that they are under the command of their respective state governors. When they are activated under Title 10, such as when they are deployed abroad, they are subject to federal control. People who were already preparing to leave the military or had medical issues were given exemptions from vaccine requirements, but religious exemptions are still pending approval from the Defense Department.
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