(The Hill) – Secretary of the United States Army Christine Wormuth this week warned members of the National Guard that they could be banned from “continuous service” if they refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I have determined that all soldiers who refuse the mandatory vaccination order will be reported,” Wormuth wrote in a note, according to The New York Times. This action would prevent soldiers from receiving promotions, rewards and bonuses.
If members persist in refusing vaccination without an approved exemption, she added, they will not be allowed to “continue the service”.
Wormuth’s warning comes amid an ongoing standoff with the Oklahoma National Guard. Newly appointed Adjutant General Brig. General Thomas Mancino has maintained that no member of the Oklahoma National Guard will be required to be vaccinated.
Earlier this month, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (right) asked Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to suspend the vaccination mandate for members of the Oklahoma National Guard, saying in a letter that about 10 percent of the force “do not have and are not planning” on getting the vaccine.
The Times noted that about 89 percent of Oklahoma Guard Airmen are vaccinated, while only 40 percent of Army Guards can say the same.
On Wednesday, a Defense Department official reiterated the administration’s position on the vaccine mandate for US troops. The official said Austin “may establish a medical readiness requirement that applies to members of the National Guard,” adding that failure to meet this readiness requirement “could jeopardize their status in the National Guard.”
“To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force. After careful consultation with medical experts and military leaders, and with the support of the President, I have determined that the mandatory vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is necessary to protect the Force and defend the American people. Austin wrote in a statement. August note.