Illegal Vaccine Order Officially Overturned for All Members of the Military

Prostock-studio / shutterstock.com
Prostock-studio / shutterstock.com

January 10th, 2023, is a day the Department of Defense (DOD) finally decided to hear the pop and finish the fix of a long-standing problem. Impacting the lives of thousands of troops globally, their COVID vaccination requirement destroyed elite fighting teams, undermanned numerous line units, and made Swiss cheese out of the National Guard and Reserves.

While just days before, they announced the overturn of the mandate for active-duty troops, the NG and Reserves had been left out in the cold. Following the almost instant outcry of disbelief, they made the announcement on the 10th that will allow them to return to full status.

When this mandate was first announced by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin back in August 2021, it created a wave of panic across the service. Many troops simply did not trust the effectiveness or the lack of real-world testing these vaccinations had undergone. The White House’s response of “get it or get out” did not sit well with many Americans. Especially for those who had been in for a while or the Veteran community.

Those whose boots have more time in the middle east than their commanders had time in service were especially salty. They have seen the testing vaccines that some troops have been given in years past and seen the side effects many had with the already well-tested anthrax vaccines. In turn, they refused the vaccines, and as a result over 8,400 servicemembers were discharged for refusing the vaccine. Many chose to sue before that could happen.

Overturning the vaccine requirement was not easy, and it only came as a result of Congress making it a part of the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Neither President Biden nor Sec Def Austin had any plans or desire to overturn the mandate. In their (obviously very weak) eyes this vaccine was the answer to America’s problem with COVID. While the NG and Reserves were a later addition to the mandate coming in November 2022, the delay in removing them was appalling. Given the timing of their addition coming right after the midterms, it was incredibly suspicious.

Unfortunately, this also may not make things completely right for those who were able to stay in or for those trying to return. The mom goes on to explain that their vaccination status may impact where a servicemember could be stationed in the future, and the duties they are assigned. As anyone who has ever served can tell you, where you are sent and the duties you perform can impact your career just as much as how you serve.

It also fails to truly identify the elephant in the room; making things right with those who have been discharged for this. According to R. Davis Young who represents several members who looked for religious exemptions, “This does nothing to address those pending discharge who did not submit a religious accommodation or who were improperly denied a religious or medical accommodation.”

He’s right too. In the directive from Congress, there is nothing about compensating them for those who were discharged or who saw their careers impacted by the mandate. Given the DOD’s push that this vaccine would keep the force at full capacity and keep troops healthy, it was considered a “no-fail” mission. While they put out guidance on medical and religious accommodations, many leaders did not abide by this guidance.

This was a test for the leadership of the military, and many of them failed. Retired Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop, president of Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services spoke up against these vaccines and spoke with the DCNF about the result of the mandate. “Much trust and confidence in military leadership was lost as a result of the way DOD implemented the mandate.”

One of the cardinal rules of the military is to question illegal or unlawful orders. This vaccine mandate was certainly unlawful, and leaders should have told their commanders that they were refusing to put out good soldiers. They failed at that. It makes you wonder how many were harassed over the vaccine, then put out under another section so that when it was overturned they couldn’t seed redress.