Tennessee National Guard Master Sergeant Jennifer Berry Set to Retire June 30 for Not Taking the COVID Vaccine, Seeks Help from Governor Lee

Live from Music Row, Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed retired Tennessee National Guard Master Sergeant, Jennifer Berry to the newsmaker line to discuss her upcoming retirement due to non-compliance of the COVID-19 vaccine and efforts to reverse the mandate by Governor Bill Lee.

Leahy: On the newsmaker line, retired Tennessee National Guard Master Sergeant Jennifer Berry. Good morning, Sergeant Barry.

Berry: Yes, how are you?

Leahy: We’re great. By the way, Master Sergeant, that’s a pretty big, big deal. Our own national political editor, Neil W. McCabe is in the Army Reserve. He’s been in it for many years.

He just got promoted to Sergeant First Class. He’s very proud of that. But the next step up is Master Sergeant, tell us about your career and how you were able to become a Master Sergeant in the Tennessee National Guard.

Berry: I started out back in 2000. I came to the National Guard in 2000 and I was a finance soldier. And I was a finance soldier for about 10 years and deployed twice with them.

Once to Iraq in 2010, and prior to that, I was in Afghanistan in 2004, and 2005. I continued my career through the J9 as an E7, and then I was promoted to 2E8 in my current unit in 230S, the same brigade as a food service NCO, and I’ve been there for almost eight years now.

Leahy: Are you retired?

Berry: My actual retirement date is 30 June. So in just about a week.

Leahy: Are you being forced into retirement?

Berry: It’s my choice to retire, but the reason I’m retiring is that I’m not going to be vaccinated.

Leahy: Now, what is going on with this vaccination thing? I noticed at a national level this comes down from the Secretary of Defense who said every member of the armed forces must be vaccinated.

On Wednesday, a bunch of Republicans introduced an amendment to fire the guy because they didn’t think he had the right to force COVID-19 vaccinations on folks.

Here in Tennessee in the Tennessee National Guard, the orders come down, but as I understand it, until you’re deployed, you are under the authority of the governor and not the Secretary of Defense. Do I have that right?

Berry: That is correct. So it is a DOD directive that came down that all the National Guard members must be vaccinated by 30 June. However, you’re correct.

Unless we’re deployed, our commander in chief is Governor Lee, and he does have the authority and the right to reverse the mandate for the National Guard to be vaccinated.

Leahy: So you’ve chosen not to get the vaccination?

Berry: That is correct.

Leahy: Have you told your command structure you want to stay in, but you don’t want to get vaccinated and if so, how have they responded?

Berry: Yes, there are several of us that have let that be known, and basically it’s to get vaccinated or turn in your gear.

Leahy: But shouldn’t the governor weigh in on this since he’s ahead of the Tennessee National Guard while you’re here in Tennessee?

Berry: Absolutely, and that’s what we’re trying to get his attention right now and let him hear our voice and understand that, hey, there are folks out here that want to continue to serve, and there are other ways to mitigate COVID-19 rather than be vaccinated.

And I had a religious exemption request, and that states several other options. You know, I’ll wear a mask. I’ll get tested every time I come to drill or continue the 6ft away type thing, but that hasn’t been enough.

Leahy: Has your request gone to Governor Lee?

Berry: I don’t believe that the chain of command as far as the request goes, it doesn’t go through the governor, from my understanding, it goes up through NGB.

Leahy: What’s NGB?

Berry: That’s the National Guard Bureau.

Leahy: And where are they located?

Berry: They’re located in Washington, D.C.

Leahy: Okay. But ultimately, can’t you get this message directly to Governor Lee and ask him to stop this?

Berry: Well, we have sources. We have individual soldiers that are inside that have contacts in the government, and they are trying to get a hold of these folks and get his attention so that he understands that this is an issue that we feel is very important and that he needs to address this.

Leahy: What’s going to happen to the efficacy of the Tennessee National Guard if, as is reported estimated, 10 percent of its force will be reduced because they refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Berry: Well, the troops won’t be able to respond to anything that’s going on within the state or around the states. We respond to tornado efforts. We respond to hurricane efforts. We respond to heaven forbid we have an earthquake in Tennessee.

But that’s the things that we do in the National Guard locally or throughout the state, that we may not have the folks to respond to those missions if this isn’t addressed very quickly. Time is of the essence. I mean, 30 June is approaching very quickly.

Leahy: Yes, it’s six days from now. By the way, our story at The Tennessee Star, Tennesseestar.com, a group of supporters of Tennessee National Guard members informed us of their intention to host a Wednesday, June 29 event outside the capital at Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville.

The event is called Guard Freedom and is scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m.. Are you familiar with this event and what’s the purpose of it?

Berry: Yes, I am familiar with the event, and it is to just get awareness out there for the people that don’t understand what we’re going through in the National Guard right now as far as having to be vaccinated or having to choose from.

I know my last formation that I stood up and I announced the fact that I was retiring and my kids got to come up there and give me my awards and all that kind of good stuff, and I said, this is the reason I’m retiring because I’m not going to be vaccinated.

I can’t tell you how many soldiers came up to me afterward and said, the only reason I’m vaccinated is that the army made me do this. I would have never been vaccinated otherwise. Even one soldier.

She now has a heart valve next to her heart valve monitor that she will probably have to wear for the rest of her life from complications from the vaccine.

Leahy: So what you’re saying is one soldier in the Tennessee National Guard who was forced to take this COVID-19 vaccine has told you that there are lifelong heart consequences for her as a result of this. Is that what you’re saying?

Berry: Correct? Yes, sir.

Leahy: Has there been any medical follow-up to this for her?

Berry: For her, yes. I didn’t get a whole lot of information from her. We had a quick conversation, so I don’t know her medical history or anything with that.

She just did tell me that that monitor that she’s got, she will probably have to wear for the rest of her life. And it was a complication from a COVID vaccine that she only took because she wanted to continue serving.

Listen to the interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.

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2 Thoughts to “Tennessee National Guard Master Sergeant Jennifer Berry Set to Retire June 30 for Not Taking the COVID Vaccine, Seeks Help from Governor Lee”

  1. David Blackwell RN, BSN, CCM

    Mask don’t work. The shots don’t work. And Lee has no balls. This woman has bigger balls than Lee.

    1. Jeff Neal

      Just take the shot I don’t understand this. The vaccine
      will not hurt you or affect you in anyway. It is like the flu shot,
      so, you are saying you won’t take that either?
      Before kids go to school, they have to have a series of shots
      before they enter for several diseases, we all know what they are.
      I guess no child should ever be vaccinated for any of that stuff
      (polio, mumps, measles, chicken pox etc. etc)
      The Governor is doing fine, he needs to call a special session
      on Guns and Gun Violence. he has already had a special session
      about COVID-19 with lawmakers remember?

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