The Army slashed pay and benefits for service members who have not yet been vaccinated against Covid by barring them from their duties. Will this affect military readiness? The Army has already struggled to meet its recruitment goals. They plan to separate anyone who has continued to defy the order to get vaccinated, but are dragging their feet, hoping the last holdouts will come aboard for the jab.
“Soldiers who refuse the vaccination order without an approved or pending exemption request are subject to adverse administrative actions, including flags, bars to service, and official reprimands.”
Army spokesman to Military.com
This comes in the midst of the summer training season for the part time soldiers. The training is critical to keep their skills sharp.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in November said that members of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard who refused to get vaccinated would be barred from participating in trainings and their pay would be blocked.
Austin also warned that the continued refusal to get vaccinated could result in “separation” or expulsion from the service.
The deadline for Guard and Reservists to get the shot passed on June 30, with 13% of the Guard and 12% of Reservists still not vaccinated. The consquences they face for refusing the jab are severe. For its part, the Army spokesman told reporters that they will “work with” the service members to try to talk them into it until they end up separated from service or they get a legal exemption. Religious and medical exemptions have been few and far between in spite of thousands of requests.
“We’re going to give every soldier every opportunity to get vaccinated and continue their military career. We’re not giving up on anybody until the separation paperwork is signed and completed.”
Director of the Army Guard, Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen
The deadline for regular troops to get the vaccine was September 15 “or sooner.”
The Defense Department has struggled to find people to fill the ranks in nearly every branch, especially the Army. At one point they even terminated the requirement for a high school diploma, but repealed it one week after it went into effect. The reason for the rescinding of the requirement is unknown at this time. The Army National Guard wanted to cut down on nondeployable service members back in 2017. Now they have thousands more than they had back then. Readiness is a serious issue for our current military.
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