A captain in the U.S. Army National Guard told The Tennessee Star Saturday that soldiers are currently losing benefits and being barred from participating in military activities if they have not taken the COVID-19 vaccine.
Cpt. Mickey Shelton, a Tennessee Army National Guardsman in the 230th Sustainment Brigade says dozens of soldiers – from enlisted men and women all the way up to the rank of Colonel – in Tennessee and nationwide have spoken to him about the loss of benefits and duty bans.
In civilian life, Shelton describes himself as a political activist.
“Currently there are national guardsmen who are not allowed to attend drill, and they’re not getting paid,” he said. “People are resigning. People are not signing new contracts. Even medical and religious exemptions are getting declined almost immediately.”
He said that unvaccinated soldiers are being discriminated against. If they are unvaccinated, the soldiers are not allowed to do certain training schools, can’t hold command over a company, and officers can’t do certain missions.
Shelton says that the Tennessee National Guard is providing temporary exemptions from vaccinations for some soldiers, but that the exemptions have random end dates.
“I think the reason is they’re wanting to look like they gave every exemption request hard thought,” he said. “In the meantime the damage has already been done.”
Meanwhile, a U.S. senator from Tennessee along with several of her colleagues, announced Friday that she had introduced legislation aiming to stop the federal government from kicking soldiers out of the National Guard due to their COVID-19 vaccination status.
“Joe Biden announced the ‘pandemic is over,’ and therefore has no reason to continue to fire our servicemembers using his politically-motivated vaccine mandate,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn in a press release. “America’s national readiness should not be jeopardized because this White House is hellbent on preserving their forever pandemic. My legislation continues my work to strengthen our armed forces and prevent yet another unconstitutional power grab from the Biden administration.”
The bill “prohibits involuntary separation of a servicemember for refusal of the COVID-19 vaccine until each Service achieves its authorized end strength,” and also “requires the National Guard and Reserve to maintain servicemember access to pay and benefits while a request for a religious or health accommodation is pending.”
The goal, according to Blackburn and the other Senators, is to maintain battle readiness in an already depleted U.S. Military.
The Star has covered the issue of National Guardsmen being kicked out of the service over-vaccination status at great length.
Gov. Bill Lee (R) took little action to avoid a National Guard purge as troops were ordered at the federal level to take the vaccine by June 30 or lose their jobs in the military.
Lee dodged questions about whether unvaccinated troops would be booted from service.
“We take seriously the religious and personal exemptions requested by members who are not part of the 93% who are vaccinated in accordance with DoD policy,” he said at the time. “We have no plans to terminate these members based on their status and have asked DoD to approve their individual exemption requests.”
Upwards of 60,000 National Guardsmen are estimated to have lost military benefits for refusing to take the vaccine.
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