But don’t worry, most won’t be coming back.
The military changed its rules on the COVID-19 vaccine because
the science showed it didn’t actually work Congress passed a law requiring them to do so. Now that this has changed, the military wants the members that it kicked out to come on back…or at least, some people do. Others still cling to the “You disobeyed orders and should be punished!“
With the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine order lifted, troops can refuse to take the shot without risking ending their careers. But those who refused it in the past could still be booted for “disobeying a lawful order,” Defense Department officials warned lawmakers Tuesday. “It’s very important that our service members follow orders when they are lawful, and there are thousands that did not,” Gilbert Cisneros Jr., Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel, told members of the House Armed Services Committee. “The services are going through a process to review those cases to make a determination what needs to be done.”
So, in other words
Remember, we aren’t talking small numbers either:
Defense Department leaders said about 16,000 individuals refused that order without making any requests for exemption or accommodation. About 8,400 were separated from the services as a result.
I’m sure they will be coming back in droves. Remember this?
I give the Navy credit, at least all the individuals kicked out received honorable discharges. The Army was not so nice. A general discharge can impact the benefits you receive from the VA. It’s a choice by the service, and as the majority got a General Discharge, it defnitely means the discharging authority was angry over the refusal to obey orders, despite the fact the science was questionable at best on the vaccine.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again, this was NOT a good hill to die on for the military. Encouraging vaccines is one thing, but until there was a few years of data, you were just going to piss people off with mandates. Add a few young people dying after the shot, whether it was vaccine related or not, and you have a massive PR crisis on your hands.
Lawmakers are hoping many of those discharged will come back:
They did note that the vaccine refusals make up a small fraction of the total force, and said they hope that most service members continue to get the COVID-19 vaccines even without the mandate. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers on the panel said they hope to reinstate all dismissed individuals to the armed forces with full benefits and back pay. Cisneros said officials are not looking into any such move at the present.
Fat chance. The emphasis on “small fraction” misses a key point: every single member kicked out is going to tell all their friends to not join. The military just created 16,000 influencers, a portion of whom will take to social media and create a recruiting nightmare for the military. Worse still, this doesn’t count the many members that chose to retire early or voluntarily separate rather than continue service. Remember that “unprecedented” rise in military retirements and separations noted in the Health of the Force survey? That’s not random. You can only beat down on people for so long before they start to vote with their feet. Even among people who took the COVID vaccine, there is a fairly large number that didn’t think the mandate was a good idea. I make plenty of choices that I think are smart, but I wouldn’t mandate them on others, and I’m not alone in this thinking.
The military created this mess, and its spilling over into recruitment and retention. Expect it to get worse, despite anything that Congress will do.
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