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Flouting Congress, DOD, Army maintains military COVID vax mandate on Guard, Reserves

Posted by JJ The Psychotherapist on January 7, 2023 at 11:15 PM

Flouting Congress, DOD, Army maintains military COVID vax mandate on Guard, Reserves

 


The US Army has announced that it will continue to enforce the COVID-19 vaccine mandate on the National Guard and Reserves, despite the recent repeal of the controversial order by Congress and the Defense Department (DOD). On December 23, President Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included a provision repealing the mandate.


The DOD subsequently issued a directive rescinding the mandate on December 29. However, last week the Army issued a new guidance, known as FRAGO 35, stating that the Army will "continue to adhere to Annex AAAA and to paragraphs 3.D.21-3.D.23 unless and until Annex AAAA is superseded or rescinded by the Secretary of Defense." Annex AAAA is a November 2021 memo from the Secretary of Defense requiring all National Guard members to be vaccinated.


The FRAGO 35 guidance also states that service members will not be discharged from the Army solely for being unvaccinated. "Commands will immediately suspend processing and initiating involuntary enlisted separation and officer elimination actions that are based solely on a soldier's refusal to comply with the DOD COVID-19 vaccination order," the guidance reads.


Military attorney R. Davis Younts, who has represented service members in lawsuits challenging the vaccine mandate on religious freedom grounds, criticized the Army's interpretation of the mandate's repeal, stating that it is "inconsistent with clear Congressional intent."


A DOD spokesperson said in a statement that the department is "pausing all actions for all service members related to the COVID-19 mandate, to include separation," and is in the process of developing new policy within the 30-day window allotted by the NDAA. An Army spokesperson confirmed that FRAGO 35 was issued on December 29 and reiterated that "the guidance remains in effect until further notice."


The mandate has been controversial, with some service members and lawmakers expressing concern over the military's authority to require a medical procedure and the potential impact on morale. The mandate has resulted in the discharge of over 8,000 service members who refused the vaccine. Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, stated that the DOD's "disregard for the law will have consequences."

Categories: Government, Health

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