There are thousands of American armed forces members that have yet to comply with the Pentagon directives to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
However, as the vaccination deadlines continue to get closer, Republican Representative Dan Crenshaw issued a pointed directive from last month that is now taking new significance.
“Question for the SECDEF: are you really willing to allow a huge exodus of experienced service members just because they won’t take the vaccine?” the former Navy SEAL commented last month, and he used an acronym for the Secretary of Defense.
“Honestly, Americans deserve to know how you plan on dealing with this blow to force readiness – it’s already causing serious problems,” Crenshaw said.
However, Crenshaw got to the crux of the matter when he said that he wasn’t opposed to the vaccine but is opposed to those who were trying to force others to get it.
“I think we’re all sick of the vaccine controversy here. Our outlook on this should be very simple. Look, I think the vaccine is safe and effective. I also don’t think you can be forced to take it. We should just really have that worldview,” Crenshaw said, according to Fox Business.
“And I’m really sick of the Democrats especially trying to politicize this and gaslight the American people and say, look at these Republicans bad-mouthing the vaccine. I’ve never badmouthed the vaccine at all, actually. But you know who has?” the Texas representative also noted, before also listing the Vice President and others who have attacked the vaccine during its development when Donald Trump was still in office.
This response to the August directive has had varied results among the different branches of the American armed forces, as reported by the Washington Post.
For instance, the Navy is posting a 90 percent rate of fully vaccinated members. Moreover, the Navy also posited that at least 98 percent of their active-duty sailors have received at least one shot of the vaccine.
However, there are some problems with the Marine Corps, which is only reporting a vaccination rate of 72 percent. The Post is reporting that both of these branches have a November 28th deadline to become fully vaccinated. The response to the August directive that all troops be vaccinated varies among the different branches of the armed forces, according to The Washington Post.
Of course, the other elephant in the room would have to be the Air Force, which still has as many as 600,000 people that will need to comply with three weeks left before the deadline.
Katherine Kuzminski is a military policy expert at the Center For a New American Security, and she said the following: “The Army’s policy is incentivizing inaction until the latest possible date.”
In a nutshell, she was criticizing the rules that require the Reserve and National Guard personnel guards and the fact that their rules mean that they don’t have to be fully vaccinated for at least another eight months, directly in conflict with some of these directives!
“The way we’ve seen the virus evolve tells us looking out to June 30 may need to be reconsidered,” Kuzminski said.
Combined, the Reserve and the Army Guard have as many as 522,000 soldiers.
Lt. Col. Terence M. Kelley is an Army Spokesman and he argued that the Reserve and Guard deadlines mirror the reality of immunizing members of these far-flung components.
“We expect all unvaccinated soldiers to receive the vaccine as soon as possible. Individual soldiers are required to receive the vaccine when available,” Kelley said.
The deadlines, he continued, “allow reserve component units necessary time to update records and process exemption requests.”
Democrat Representative Ruben Gallego said that the Reserve and Guard policy could very well prove to be a problem.
“You’re allowing a lot of room for people not to be deployable,” he said.