Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s Republican governor and the state attorney general have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the military mandate for the state’s Guard.
The US Air Force has discharged 27 service members for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine. This action marks instance of military personnel being discharged for failing to follow Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin’s order that all service members receive the vaccine.
This first wave of discharges includes Airmen and Guardians for whom the separation process was the most straightforward. None of those discharged sought a religious or medical exemption, the Air Force confirmed—if they had, they would have been considered in compliance with the vaccine mandate while their request was pending. And the majority were in their first term of enlistment—Airmen who have six or more years of service, as well as those who are noncommissioned officers or who are being discharged under anything less than honorable conditions, have the right to a hearing by an administrative discharge board.
Those discharged were counseled on the benefits of the vaccine, and their commanders were allowed to impose punishments short of separation, an Air Force spokeswoman said. In the end, however, they continued to refuse the vaccine, disobeying a lawful order.
A troubling development, given the expanding ambitions of the Chinese military (especially in space ventures). Also, a needless act, given that the vaccines are clearly ineffective at preventing people from actually being infected with COVID-19.
Massachusetts health officials on Tuesday reported nearly 11,500 new breakthrough cases over the past week, bringing the total above 100,000, and 52 more deaths.
Tuesday also brought a milestone in the state’s immunization effort: Five million people have now been fully vaccinated.
In the last week, 11,431 new breakthrough cases — infections in people who have been vaccinated — were reported, with 250 more vaccinated people hospitalized, Massachusetts Department of Public Health officials said Tuesday. It’s a slight increase in the rate of new breakthrough cases in Massachusetts — last week saw 11,321 new COVID infections in vaccinated people.
The deadlines for discharges in other branches of the military loom ahead.
Kirby said Pentagon data showed approximately 90% of the active duty force is fully vaccinated and about 74% of the total force, including the Reserve and National Guard, is fully vaccinated.
The Army’s deadline for its active duty force is December 15. The deadline for the active-duty component of the other services has already passed. The next hurdle will be the services’ Reserve and Guard forces. The final deadline is June 30, 2022, for the Army National Guard.
Oklahoma’s Republican governor and the state attorney general have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the military mandate for the state’s Guard. Gov. Kevin Stitt asserts that Austin is overstepping his constitutional authority.
Stitt had asked Austin to suspend the mandate for the Oklahoma National Guard and directed his new adjutant general to assure members that they would not be punished for not being vaccinated.
Austin rejected the request and said unvaccinated Guard members would be barred from federally funded drills and training required to maintain their Guard status.
Oklahoma’s adjutant general, Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, posted a letter on the state Guard’s website, however, warning his troops that those who refuse the vaccine could end their military careers.
“Anyone … deciding not to take the vaccine, must realize that the potential for career ending federal action, barring a favorable court ruling, legislative intervention, or a change in policy is present,” Mancino wrote.
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