The U.S. Department of Defense has ended its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for U.S. troops that was imposed in August 2021 by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
During a press briefing, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder announced, “We have rescinded the mandate.”
“I will say that we will continue to encourage all of our service members, civilian employees, and our contractor personnel to get vaccinated and boosted to ensure the readiness of our force. And as we’ve said, as I’ve said, the health and readiness of our force will continue to be crucial to our ability to defend the nation,” said Ryder.
This vaccine mandate has caused a significant disruption among U.S. military personnel, with Navy sailors being discharged over their refusal to get vaccinated, regardless of religious beliefs.
There were also major concerns rising that these requirements could cripple our National Guard, and fears that the mandates were making it more difficult for the military to sign recruits.
To avoid more disruption amongst our troops, Joe Biden signed a provision in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that dropped the vaccine mandate for all members of the military. This was an element that the Republican party insisted be included in order for the $847 billion defense bill to be passed, and the Democrats were forced to give in to the demand.
This new bill does not, however, require that those service members who were separated due to their refusal to be vaccinated be reinstated into the service, leaving many wondering where they will stand. It is also unclear if those unvaccinated members will be deployed or not.
Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro addressed the removal of the mandate on Tuesday, saying, “Unquestionably it’ll create almost two classes of citizens in our services. Those that can’t deploy and those that can deploy. And that creates all sorts of problems.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addressed the mandate withdrawal during a press conference on Wednesday, insisting that it is a ‘mistake.’ She said, “What we saw, what we think happened here is Republicans in Congress have decided that they’d rather fight against the health and well-being of our troops than protecting them, and we believe that it is a mistake.”