Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Remains Silent on Forced COVID-19 National Guard Vaccinations, But Certain Legislators Are Speaking Out


Staff for Tennessee Governor Bill Lee won’t comment on the matter, but State Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) said Thursday that members of the Tennessee National Guard should decide on their own whether to vaccinate against COVID-19.

Tennessee National Guard officials said in November that their troops must take the COVID-19 shot or face discharge. This, per a mandate from the U.S. Department of Defense and President Joe Biden.

Hensley serves on the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. Hensley previewed the 2022 session of the Tennessee General Assembly during an interview with The Tennessee Star on Thursday. He said legislators could discuss COVID-19 vaccination mandates, including those that the Tennessee National Guard leadership has imposed.

“I think that vaccines and the treatments will come before the Health Committee in the way of legislation just like everything does in the committees,” Hensley said.

The remaining eight members of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee did not return requests for comment Thursday.

The Star also reached out to the 22 members of the House Health Committee. State Representative Rebecca Alexander (R-Jonesborough) said Thursday that she was unable to comment. State Representative Darren Jernigan (D-Old Hickory) said the forced National Guard COVID-19 vaccinations are not a priority.

“When a person signs up and becomes a member of the Armed Forces they take orders,” Jernigan said.

“You can no more refuse to take a vaccine than you can refuse to take a hill.”

The remaining 20 members of the House Health Committee did not respond to requests for comment.

Hensley, though, said National Guard troops should have the right to decide what’s best for them.

“Yes, I think the National Guard should be able to make that decision on their own, and the federal government should not mandate it,” Hensley said.

“But that is the way I feel about vaccines in general. The government should not mandate it. If they want to make it a requirement for people who join the National Guard in the future then that’s one thing, but to mandate something while someone is already in the service is not the right way to do it.”

Just the News reported this week that several Republican governors are fighting the National Guard mandate for troops in their respective states. But Governor Lee was not among them.

Members of Lee’s communications team have not responded to repeated requests for comment on the matter.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Background Photo “Tennessee National Guard” by The National Guard. CC BY 2.0.




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11 Thoughts to “Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Remains Silent on Forced COVID-19 National Guard Vaccinations, But Certain Legislators Are Speaking Out”

  1. Sim

    When Government becomes a “Threat” to me or my family,

    I will become a “Threat” to Government.

  2. Kitty Lenoir

    What conservative will primary this chicken heart RINO???? Oh and Happy New Year fellow America First patriots!!

  3. steve

    By Rep Darren Jernigan’s logic , if a soldier is given an order to fire on American citizens or kill children (ref: My lai ) then they should do so. He misses the point of an order being constitutionally legal which this arbitrary mandate in my humble opinion is not. Perchance , we should give him a copy of the U.S. constitution.

  4. Don Jenkins (Colonel US Army Retired)

    Goodness! How is it we have such poor leadership in the State House? The issue is clearly Title 10 vs Title 32 authority. When NOT Federalized the Guard is under the control of the Governor (Title 32). Senator Hensley is closer to correct than many. However, the entire “vaccine” mandate/executive order is patently Unconstitutional and is an illegal order — see Amendments 1 and IV of the US Constitution. Wouldn’t it be good if our Politial Leadership had a clue.

  5. Horatio Bunce

    “You can no more refuse to take a vaccine than you can refuse to take a hill.” Darren Jernigan (D-Pfizer)

    What if the order is coming from a domestic enemy of the U.S. Constitution?

    What if the order is a clear violation of standing federal law, as forcing unapproved, EUA vaccines without right of refusal are? Are members of the military expected to keep their oath to defend the U.S. Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic…while simultaneously being denied those rights? Are they to carry out unlawful orders?

  6. Dwayne Oxford

    Lee is USELESS!! RINO puke!

  7. 83ragtop50

    Of course Lee is hiding in his basement. He has been a dismal failure since the day he was sworn in. And the same goes for the majority of the RINO reps and senators. Only a few have the nerve to stand up for conservative values and individual rights. It appears that most are beholding to special interests in order to assure themselves of reelection. Just look at the nothingness that came from the special session. Lee would not call one, McNally was opposed to the session and Sexton gave it lip service but the three of them essentially neutered anyone wanting to take serious actions. Might as well be a blue state because none of the supposed conservative leaders take any serious actions…. That is unless it is to give away billions to private companies and feelgood nonprofits.

  8. LM

    We need a governor who will stand up – especially for our service men and women – to Mr. Potato Head and his goon squad. FJB

  9. David Blackwell RN, BSN, CCM

    Bill Lee is bought and paid for, as evidenced by; he and a few other RHINOs. His NASCAR firesuit has Pfizer written all over it. I will not vote for this clown again, nor ever do business with Lee Company again. I have NOT been impressed at all. Tennessee can do better.

    1. John

      David, the company I used to work for owns numerous retail chains throughout the southeast and expanding north of Kentucky. We would bid out the electrical work for every new location and Lee Company always came in thousands of dollars ahead of everyone else. The ONE time we had use Lee Company, the electrical work failed inspection. Years later, the company quoted our friends $10K to replace their mainline at their residence. We’ve had that work done by another big name happy face company and the quote came in way under $10K. More proof (in my eyes) that Lee is nothing more than a crook.

      Fairly evident that Lee was bought and paid for by big business and special interest. I’d like to personally thank the GOP leadership in Tennessee for pushing this RINO to the top of the list.

  10. Kevin

    Congratulations to Senator Hensley! At least there is one Tennesse State Legislator who has not been neutered by Billee Gates.