(by Mike Glenn | Washington Times) – National Guard troops refusing the COVID-19 vaccination won’t be paid for their drills or be excused from any training or duty conducted while under federal authority, according to a memo released Tuesday by the Pentagon.
The memo from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin amounts to a shot across the bow to Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who has sought to block Mr. Austin’s vaccine mandate for personnel in the Oklahoma Army and Air National Guard who don’t want to take the vaccine.
“Vaccination is essential to the health and readiness of the force,” Mr. Austin wrote in his memo to the service secretaries along with other Pentagon officials including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the chief of the National Guard Bureau.
“No Department of Defense funding may be allocated for payment of duties performed under [federal authority] for members of the National Guard who do not comply with the Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccination requirements,” the memo stated. “No credit or excused absence shall be afforded to members who do not participate in drills, training or other duty due to failure to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”
The memo came the day after Mr. Austin’s rejection of a request from Gov. Stitt a waiver from the COVID order for members of the Oklahoma National Guard. The governor said the mandate “violates the personal freedoms of many Oklahoman’s” because it asks them to potentially sacrifice their personal beliefs in order to not lose their jobs.
“All of our National Guardsmen take this calling very seriously,” Mr. Stitt wrote. “These are patriotic citizens who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect others in our communities during times of greatest need.”
Secretary Austin told the governor he made the decision because of the hospitalizations and deaths of military personnel and their families because of COVID-19, which he said “jeopardizes our ability to meet mission requirements.”
“The concerns raised in your letter do not negate the indeed for this important military readiness requirement,” Mr. Austin wrote in his reply. Read Full Article >