by LOLITA C. BALDOR - The Associated Press | June 26, 2022
Up to 40,000 Army National Guard soldiers across the country - or about 13% of the force — have not yet gotten the mandated COVID-19 vaccine, and as the deadline for shots looms, at least 14,000 of them have flatly refused and could be forced out of the service.
Guard soldiers have until Thursday to get the vaccine. According to data obtained by The Associated Press, between 20% to 30% of the Guard soldiers in six states are not vaccinated, and more than 10% in 43 other states still need shots.
Guard leaders say states are doing all they can to encourage soldiers to get vaccinated by the time limit. And they said they will work with the roughly 7,000 who have sought exemptions, which are almost all for religious reasons.
"We're going to give every soldier every opportunity to get vaccinated and continue their military career. Every soldier that is pending an exemption, we will continue to support them through their process," said Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, director of the Army National Guard. "We're not giving up on anybody until the separation paperwork is signed and completed. There's still time."
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last year ordered all service members -- active-duty, National Guard, and Reserves -- to get the vaccine, saying it is critical to maintaining the health and readiness of the force. The military services had varying deadlines for their forces, and the Army National Guard was given the longest amount of time to get the shots, mainly because it's a large force of about 330,000 soldiers who are widely scattered around the country, many in remote locations.
The Army Guard's vaccine percentage is the lowest among the U.S. military -- with all the active-duty Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps at 97% or greater and the Air Guard at about 94%. The Army reported Friday that 90% of Army Reserve forces were partially or completely vaccinated.
The Pentagon has said that after June 30, Guard members won't be paid by the federal government when they are activated on federal status, which includes their monthly drill weekends and their two-week annual training period. Guard troops mobilized on the federal status and assigned to the southern border or on covid-19 missions in various states also would have to be vaccinated or they would not be allowed to participate or be paid.
To make it more complicated, however, Guard soldiers on state active duty may not have to be vaccinated -- based on the requirements in their states. As long as they remain in state duty status, they can be paid by the state and used for state missions.
At least seven governors formally asked Austin to reconsider or not enforce the vaccine mandate for National Guard members, and some filed or signed on to lawsuits. In letters to the governors, Austin declined, and said the coronavirus "takes our service members out of the fight, temporarily or permanently, and jeopardizes our ability to meet mission requirements." He said Guard troops must either get the vaccine or lose their Guard status.
Jensen and Maj. Gen. Jill Faris, director of the Guard's office of the Joint Surgeon General, said they are working with states' adjutant generals to get progress updates, including on the nearly 20,000 troops who are not flat refusals and haven't submitted any type of exemption request. Some, they said, may just be lagging in self-reporting, while others may still be undecided.
"Part of those undefined are our soldiers who say, well, I have until 30 June and so I'll take 'til 30 June," Jensen said.
Others may have promised to bring in vaccine paperwork, and haven't done it yet. Still, others are on the books but haven't yet reported to basic training, so they don't have to be vaccinated until they get there. It's not clear how many are in each category.
Jensen acknowledged that if the current numbers hold, there are concerns about the possible impact on Guard readiness in the states, including whether it will affect any Guard units preparing to deploy.
"When you're looking at 40,000 soldiers that potentially are in that unvaccinated category, absolutely there are readiness implications on that and concerns associated with that," Jensen said. "That's a significant chunk."
Overall, according to the data obtained by the AP, about 85% of all Army Guard soldiers are fully vaccinated. Officials said that if those with one shot are counted, 87% are at least partially vaccinated.
Across the country, in all but one case, Guard soldiers are vaccinated at a higher rate than the general population in their state. Only in New Jersey is the percentage of vaccinated Guard soldiers very slightly lower than the state's overall population, as of earlier this month when the data was collected.
The three U.S. territories -- the Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico -- and the District of Columbia all have more than 90% of their soldiers fully vaccinated. The highest percentage is in Hawaii, with nearly 97%, while the lowest is in Oklahoma, at just under 70%.
Guard leaders in the states have run special shot programs and provided as much information as possible to their forces in order to keep them on the job.
In Tennessee, they set up small teams in the east, west, and central regions and did monthly events providing vaccines to troops who wanted them. And every Wednesday, Guard members could make appointments for shots in the middle Tennessee region, in Smyrna. In addition, in early June they called in all soldiers who have so far refused the vaccine.
"We held a big, mass event," said Army Guard Col. Keith Evans. "We had all of our medical providers here. So if there were any questions to clear up, any misconceptions, any misinformation, we had all of our data and were able to provide them all the information."
Evans, who is commander of his Army Guard's medical readiness command, said they also had recruiting and other leaders there who could explain what would happen if soldiers chose not to get the shot and ended up leaving the Guard.
"We wanted to let them know what benefits they had earned because these are soldiers that had done their time, served their country," Evans said.
Officials say they believe the information campaign has been working. Jensen said that about 1,500 soldiers a week around the country are moving into the vaccinated category. "We expect, as we approach the deadline, that we'll see some larger growth."
FILE - Mississippi Army National Guard Sgt. Chase Toussaint, right, and Staff Sgt. Matthew Riley, both with the Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site of Camp Shelby, fill 5-gallon water drums with non-potable water, on March 1, 2021, at a Jackson, Miss., water distribution site. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
FILE - Violinist Victoria Paterson reacts as as a New York National Guard member speaks to her about the music she and fellow musicians like composer Harold O'Neal, behind them, right, play during daily lunchtime concerts at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, March 23, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)
FILE - Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, center, and his wife Fran, right, talk with specialist Emily Milosevic as they tour the Defense Supply Center Columbus in Columbus, Ohio, as members of the Ohio Army National Guard prepare to deploy to aid Ohio hospitals during the current surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations Jan. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon, File)
FILE - Rhode Island Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Andrew Bates pulls up tape marking a line at a coronavirus mass-vaccination site at the former Citizens Bank headquarters in Cranston, R.I., June 10, 2021. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
Print Headline: 40,000 in Army Guard lack shot.
Up to 12,000 Air Force personnel have rejected vaccine orders.
The Hill - Report BY RACHEL SCULLY - 10/29/21 8:13 AM
About 12,000 Air Force personnel have declined to get vaccinated for COVID-19, causing many officials to question how to address the considerable opposition without causing significant challenges and setbacks within the military, The Washington Post reported.
Officials had warned that if military personnel does not receive the COVID-19 vaccination, they will be subjected to punishment, including possible dismissal from service or receiving a charge from the military justice system, the Post wrote. The deadline for complying with the mandate is Tuesday.
However, with such a significant amount of service members rejecting the vaccine mandate, officials are faced with a dilemma: take action against those who rejected the mandate and possibly face serious setbacks within units that should be ready for a crisis, or go back on a wide-scale requirement established in August by the top military leaders.
If they choose to discipline those who reject the mandate, the wave of dismissals could cause the military to be unprepared in a time of crisis, as many jobs on the line include pilots and aircraft maintainers, according to the Post.
“The fact that it’s a choice leading to potential loss to readiness is striking,” Katherine L. Kuzminski, a military policy expert at the Washington think tank Center for a New American Security, told the news outlet.
While airmen who are close to their departure from the military may receive exemptions and are not required to receive the jab, those who decide to leave the military over the mandate may face problems if they choose to transition to federal government employees or government contractors, which tend to be frequent next steps for veterans, according to the Post. Federal employees are also required to be vaccinated, and most government contractors have the same requirement.
The Air Force is the third-largest military service at 324,000 members, the Post noted. So even a small percentage of the ranks can be substantial.
Vaccine rates in the Air Force have slowed in recent weeks. It is now too late to begin the vaccination process and finish by the Tuesday deadline.
The bottom line is for the people to regain their original, moral principles, which have intentionally been watered out over the past generations by our press, TV, and other media owned by the Illuminati/Bilderberger Group, corrupting our morals by making misbehavior acceptable to our society. Only in this way shall we conquer this oncoming wave of evil.
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