Guard receives guidance on rescinding COVID-19 vaccine mandate –

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Updated: March 3, 2023 @ 2:45 am

A retired U.S. Air Force colonel says now that the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is being rescinded, military leaders need to reflect on how it impacted readiness and work to make those negatively impacted whole.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Defense sent the Illinois National Guard guidance for implementing rescission of COVID-19 vaccine mandates for service members issued in 2021. The move follows members of Congress approving the end of the mandate late last year.
“We just received the DoD Guidance for Implementing Rescission of August 24, 2021 and November 30, 2021 Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination Requirements for Service Members three days ago,” Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Director Brad Legihton told The Center Square in an email Monday. “The service components (the Army and the Air Force) have until March 17 to certify that these actions have been completed.”
“This guidance … directs all DoD Component heads to formally rescind any policies, directives, and guidance implementing those vaccination mandates as soon as possible, if they have not already done so,” the DoD said in a statement. “Department leadership remains committed to ensuring the safety of our Service members and will continue to promote and encourage vaccinations for all Service members along with continued use of other effective mitigation measures.”
Recently retired Air Force Col. Mark Hurley said he was suspicious of the mRNA vaccine from the beginning when there were needs for special deep freezers to transport the product.
Early in the process of the national guard assisting in the distribution and administration of vaccines in early 2021, Hurley said he saw his first allergic reaction from a normally healthy first responder being injected with the vaccine. Hurley decided to never accept the vaccine. He then fought for the rights of his troops to not be impacted by the mandate just months after President Joe Biden reversed his position on whether to mandate the shots.
Readiness problems from the get go were apparent, he said, as they typically have to recruit 15% new members each year to make up for retirements.
“And if you add to it folks who refused to take the vaccine, that’s another 10% drop, and then on top of that, what we didn’t expect is people getting sick from the vaccine, so that’s an additional drop,” Hurley told WMAY. “That’s why we’re facing so many readiness issues right now.”
The Illinois National Guard couldn’t immediately say how many of their troops were impacted by the mandate.
With the mandate rescinded, Hurley said those impacted financially need to be made whole.
“The second thing is, you have to make sure how their careers won’t be hurt because they didn’t follow an order,” Hurley said. “And then the third part of that is, OK, once we do that, do you really want to force back into the same organizations that they came from with the same leadership because they already don’t have a trust for that leadership.”
Hurley began his 35-year career in active duty and national guard service in 1985 and retired Dec. 31, 2021. He recently attended Biden’s State of the Union Address in Washington as a guest of U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, R-Oakland.

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