Misinformation continued to spread as the deadline for Tennessee National Guard soldiers, as well as soldiers across the United States, to comply with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate by Thursday, drew near and now has passed.
In an effort to better inform the public, The Tennessee Star has compiled the facts about what is now happening to soldiers in Tennessee and around the country.
The point-by-point facts of what has happened and will happen to Tennessee National Guard members who have refused the COVID vaccine, along with other members of military forces around the country, can be found below.
1 – Based on available information that has not been challenged by any other entity at this time, Tennessee National Guard members who outright refused the COVID-19 vaccine will be discharged after June 30 if the Biden administration follows through and doesn’t reverse its orders.
Governor Bill Lee refused, as of press time, to request that Attorney General Herb Slatery III file a suit in federal court seeking an emergency injunction that could reverse or halt the dismissal process.
“The most recent guidance from Department of the Army which was sent to some in April and others in May included the 30 JUNE 2022 deadline to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. After that date, any unvaccinated Soldier without a pending exemption will not be allowed to attend any annual training events or monthly weekend drills, and no funds will be authorized to pay them. That means that without that paycheck, premiums for Tricare Health Insurance and SGLI Life Insurance cannot be deducted and the Servicemember loses those benefits,” a National Guard officer said.
Tennessee National Guard members received a letter in May, which said in part:
Unless otherwise exempted in accordance with Department of the Army policy, all members of the National Guard must be fully vaccinated by 30 June 2022. In the memorandum “Mandatory Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination of Department of Defense Service Members” (August 23, 2021), the SECDEF directed all Military Departments to immediately begin full vaccination of all members of the Armed Forces under DoD authority on active duty, or in the: Ready Reserve, including the National Guard. This is a lawful order and one the Tennessee: Army National Guard is following.
If you have been using the available time to postpone the vaccination as you consider all information, consider the following: I) There is no expectation that the requirement is going to change, 2) the time to complete is drawing near, 3) very few medical exemptions have been approved and even fewer religious exemptions. Given the current facts, we do not recommend relying on approval of those exemption requests to ultimately allow continued service and delaying vaccination further in hopes of exemption approval may very well create a dilemma without time to become fully vaccinated.
Soldiers who do not have a field training event scheduled prior to June 30, and who have not begun the vaccination process or do not receive their first shot during monthly IDT, will tum in their issued equipment during the May Drill weekend. Your unit leadership and supply managers arc prepared to inventory, receive, and store this equipment in preparation for turn-in post June 30th deadline (FRAGORD 4 to 230 SB OPORD 22-35). Unless you have a valid Exception to Policy request pending, your unit will also soon provide instructions regarding your mandatory attendance of final Vaccine Brief location to report to on June 4 or 5 (Milan, Smyrna, McGhee Tyson).
2 – Soldiers who refused vaccinations have already turned in their gear, according to Captain Mickey Shelton (speaking on his own behalf as a private citizen) and others.
3 – Soldiers who are not vaccinated have been precluded from performing their drilling duties.
The letter soldiers received continued, noting that fact.
We will approve split drill of I UTA for those that choose to vaccinate at a local medical facility or pharmacy and bring in a copy of the vaccination card or the unit can schedule for your vaccination at a military facility. If you have already been vaccinated, please bring your Readiness NCO a copy of the vaccination card immediately, Note the deadlines that must be met to be fully vaccinated by June 30.
4 – As of press time, no Tennessee National Guard members have contacted The Star to say they have received any communication to the contrary. The numerous members that The Star have been in contact with, say they haven’t received any order or communication countermanding the information contained in the letter.
5 – Discharge or separation papers will take weeks if not months to process.
A Tennessee National Guard officer explained how the firing process will work.
“It is not uncommon for it to take weeks to finalize paperwork and for a Soldier to subsequently receive their DD-214,” the person said.
Soldiers out of compliance will stop being paid.
6 – The soldiers that have pending exemption requests will not be fired immediately, as their requests have not been granted or denied.
7 – Soldiers were actually given until June 16 to become “fully vaccinated,” according to the letter.
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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow Aaron on GETTR, Twitter, Truth Social, and Parler.
Photo “Tennessee National Guard Members” by Tennessee National Guard.