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Congressman Warns Against National Guard Vaccine Mandate


Uniformed Members of the United States Military | Image by Shutterstock

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The United States military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate could mean the U.S. will not have enough National Guardsmen in the event of a domestic catastrophe, alleged one concerned congressman.

Rep. Mike Waltz (D-FL) wrote in an opinion piece published by Fox News on Monday, “For decades, the National Guard has served as the backbone of saving Americans across the country in times of crisis … But when the next crisis comes to our shores, the U.S. will lack the number Guardsmen and women to come to our rescue.”

The National Guard has assisted Americans around the nation during emergencies for many years. Members of the military force have guarded the U.S.-Mexico border, assisted during the COVID-19 epidemic, deployed to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and responded to several fires, floods, and storms.

Last year, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued an order requiring all active-duty, Guard, and Reserve military personnel to receive immunizations and warned that those who did not comply might be discharged.

Austin defended his decision after several states requested exemptions for their Guardsmen, writing to the governors of those states, “Covid-19 takes our service members out of the fight, temporarily or permanently, and jeopardizes our ability to meet mission requirements.”

Despite a directive by Congress that the Department of Defense develop consistent processes under which military personnel might be excused, Austin imposed an artificial deadline of June 30 for Guard and Reserve troops to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, Waltz said.

The June 30 vaccine deadline was missed by some 40,000 Guard and 22,000 Reserve members. They were therefore denied access to various benefits and prohibited from participating in federal training exercises and other military obligations.

“As a congressman and National Guard colonel – who has had COVID-19 and been vaccinated – I can’t imagine a more reckless decision than to reprimand tens of thousands of National Guard members who have answered the call of duty,” Waltz wrote. “Our current military posture can’t afford it either.”

On Tuesday, more than 50 House members, including Waltz and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), wrote to Austin asking him to reevaluate the Defense Department’s vaccination requirement and issue guidelines that consider natural immunity.

The lawmakers claimed that vital services by the National Guard would be reduced if the military discharged the tens of thousands of Guard and Reserve personnel who disobeyed the Defense Department’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

It is unlikely that the military will dismiss all the Guard and Reserve members who do not abide by the mandate, opined Trupti Brahmbhatt, a Rand Corp. senior policy researcher and Navy veteran, per Stars and Stripes.

“It’s not actually going to happen to the big, huge extent that we expect,” she said. “There might be some, but you also have to think about the recruitment and retention issue that active duty is having right now.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone six months or older get vaccinated against COVID-19.   

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