Country musician Joe McDonald sang, “I never knew until I got into the Army that thinking for myself was a crime.”
The lyrics of his 1971 song “Kiss My Ass” may epitomize how soldiers feel about Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth. The Army Secretary promised punishment for soldiers who refuse the service’s order to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Her policy does not apply to Army members who have obtained an exemption or have a pending exemption request.
“I have determined all Solders (sic) who refuse the mandatory vaccination order, and who have not received, and are not pending final decision on, a medical or administrative exemption, will remain flagged under flag code ‘A,'” said Secretary Wormuth in a Nov. 16 memo distributed to soldiers.
Wormuth said the flag becomes effective when a soldier finally declines vaccination after meeting with a medical professional and a second order from their immediate commander.
Soldiers flagged under the Army Secretary’s plan are ineligible for promotion, reassignment, reenlistment, awards or decorations, tuition assistance, payment of (re)enlistment bonuses or to assume command. In her memo, she also authorized commanders to impose bars to continued military service.
“The Soldier will remain flagged until they are fully vaccinated, receive an approved medical or administrative exemption, or are separated from the Army,” explained Wormuth.
Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino assumed command of Oklahoma’s National Guard last week. The new commander reportedly refuses to enforce the vaccination mandate because he answers to Gov. Kevin Stitt (R-Okla.), not President Joe Biden.
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