As with so many things in politics, the prospect of vaccine liberty for our servicemen and women is looking like another case of politicians under-delivering on promising policy.
This ought to be simple; vaccine mandates on soldiers should stop today.
The way it’s currently drafted, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) concerning COVID-19 mandates requires the Secretary of Defense to rescind the mandate “pursuant to the memorandum dated August 24, 2021” within 30 days. The Act rescinds the memo, but puts no restrictions on issuing later mandates.
In fact, it goes on to detail the requirements for ongoing reporting of the number of exemptions filed, approved, and denied. This begs the question, why would a servicemember need an exemption if there is no mandate?
Additionally, the measure instructs the Secretary to make decisions about military readiness based on public health guidance. So, even if the mandate were immediately removed, it can quickly be imposed again with direction from unelected bureaucrats.
These are the same unelected officials who said ten days to slow the spread. Nearly 1000 days later, we still live under emergency orders in Texas.
Finally, servicemembers discharged due to non-compliance are not automatically reinstated but instead must apply. They may be denied. There are no stipulations for pay lost or the retention of their record of previous years of service required for retirement.
There is a single bright spot worth noting; soldiers will be given an honorable discharge if noncompliance with the vaccine mandate was their sole reason for being discharged.
Skepticism of Congress freeing soldiers from vaccine mandates and of Governors’ bandwagoning appears to have been warranted, and activists have to continue pushing both for actual reform. This is just another game of hiding the ball, one we’ve been playing for over two years regarding COVID.