Republicans say the COVID-19 vaccine mandate would be rescinded under the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) heading for a vote in Congress, ending a directive that helped ensure the vast majority of troops were vaccinated but also raised concerns that it harmed recruitment and retention (see sidebar).
'Wokeness' putting a damper on patriotism
Chad Groening (AFN.net)
Much has been made about the drastic recruiting crisis facing the U.S. military as a result of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. A retired Army general argues that "woke policies" of the Biden administration, such as the mandate, have discouraged the type of young people who normally can be counted on to enlist or opt for officer training.
Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (USA-et.) is executive vice president of Washington, DC-based Family Research Council. During an appearance Wednesday on "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins," he pointed out that the military has always relied very heavily a key geographic area of the country to the fill the ranks – but no longer.
"You've got a culture [in the Southeast] that appreciates service," Boykin shared. "My dad was one of five brothers who all went off to World War II – and that's part of the culture there.
"But now even the commandant of the Marine Corps is saying that they're having real trouble recruiting out of the southeastern part of the United States now," he lamented. "You're going to have a difficult time getting moms and dads to encourage their sons and daughters to serve."
The likely result, according to Boykin, is that America is going to have a very different kind of military.
"You wind up with a bunch of mercenaries – [that's] exactly what you wind up with … and we do not need a mercenary army," he emphasized. "Why do young men and women serve this country? At least in part, it's because of a sense of patriotism, a sense of cause, [of] something being bigger than them individually."
Emboldened by their upcoming House majority, GOP members pushed the effort and party leader Kevin McCarthy personally lobbied President Joe Biden in a meeting last week to roll back the mandate. The ranking Republican member on the Armed Services Committee, Mike Rogers of Alabama, said the removal of the vaccination requirement was essential for the defense policy bill to move forward.
Steve Crampton is senior counsel at the Thomas More Society, a legal firm that has filed several lawsuits aimed at protecting service members from the mandate.
"As much as the administration has kind of gone to the mat on the vaccine mandates, despite all the overwhelming evidence of the ineffectiveness of the vaccines and in fact their harmfulness to so many that receive them – this may provide something of a gracious way out," the attorney explains. "[It could allow them to say] We had to compromise because the insistent Republicans just wouldn't let us get our funding through for the military."
Still, Crampton thinks it's only a matter of time before these mandates are struck down.
"I see an outcome here where there will be some sort of compromise reached and some action taken to roll back the vaccine mandate and still satisfy the likes of [Defense Secretary Lloyd] Austin, who said it's absolutely essential that we maintain them," Crampton predicts.
Secretary Austin implemented the shot mandate in 2021 and directed that all troops get the vaccine or face potential expulsion from the military. Thousands of active-duty forces have been discharged since then for their refusal to get the shots. Since receiving the jab and two booster shots himself, Austin has tested positive for the virus in January of this year and again in August, just seven months later.
Sidebar added after story was originally posted.
Editor's note: Service members like Bradley Miller, a former lieutenant colonel in the Army and a battalion commander in the 101st Airborne Division, told American Family News recently that he considers the mandate unlawful and unnecessary.