Following the orders of the officers appointed over you can be one of the most difficult pieces in the military. When the Department of Defense (DOD) announced their plans to require troops to be vaccinated with the COVID vaccine, many pushed for religious exemptions. Being made nondeployable and therefore subject to discharge, officers forced many to get out of the military. Now multiple soldiers are reporting getting bulk mailers to let them know that they can appeal to have their discharge code reset.
Even more insultingly, they are telling them that if they want to go back and serve, they’ll take them back; all they need to do is visit a recruiter’s office again. Given the implementation of the mandate being in August and November 2021, they made a huge reversal just 24 months later. Given how much verbal harassment and prodding they were given for their refusals, many are already telling them it’s no longer an option.
Part of obeying those orders blindly comes from trusting your officers to know you, know your beliefs, and be willing to talk to you about the big picture when you aren’t in the heat of battle. Given how much COVID had shut down, there was no battle, and these kinds of questions could have been talked out. Commanders who cared could have put in the time to fight and keep their Joes who refused the vaccine. Instead, they simply rolled over, and too many troops were lost.
Now unable to make their recruiting mission, they have already started allowing those without a high school diploma or even a GED to join up. Not to mention making waivers for criminal records, tattoos, and other things easier than ever to come by. Standards haven’t dropped like this since the great troop surge in Iraq and Afghanistan back in 2005. Yet they still can’t get close to success.
In total 1,900 or so former active-duty soldiers have been sent these letters. To say that most of the recipients are offended and outraged at this administration would be gravely understating the situation. Former soldier Brad Miller shared a copy of his letter online. He wonders why they haven’t considered other ideas yet.
“Many have seen this letter. I just got mine. When I resigned from the Army, it was clear DoD was breaking the law (and senior leaders were likely engaged in treason). Why doesn’t the Army ask me if I want my resignation converted into a retirement dated with the release date of this new policy, and along with it offer compensation for the command I was wrongly relieved of, compensation for the remainder of whatever my career might have been, and then offer me my adjusted pension from this month forward? Then offer the same to all others similarly wronged.”
Given the fact that it took the administration nearly a year to issue the reversal after House Republicans forced the issue, they gave too little in the memo announcing the change. Offering to stop all pending COVID-related discharges, remove the discharge classification from any and all records, and remove any record of punitive actions that occurred from the mandate, like article 15’s for disobeying a direct order. Those actions were the roots to start their chapter and punish them along the way.
Additionally, any potentially pending punitive punishments would be dropped, and those who wished to return to service were granted the right to walk right back in.
Recently retired Army Major Chase Spears shared his insights with American Mind. He questioned the timing of this change. He sees the recruitment numbers, and like many veterans, he keeps an eye on the state of the service. With the futile failures, he isn’t surprised to see such a dramatic change. Chase also talked about how commanders were quick to punish those who didn’t trust it.
“The Army requires several immunizations and checkups throughout the year to maintain one’s medical readiness. Not one of those came with the coercive force of the Covid mandate. Late on your flu shot? You just get told to take one at your next convenience. Late on a vision check? The same applied. But in 2021 on Fort Leavenworth, proof of the COVID shot was the only path to being able to live an existence that in any way might reflect normal. It became the primary marker of human worth on that base and at many others.