Iraq war veteran and conservative activist Rob Smith has admonished U.S. military leaders for what he considers prioritizing tyranny over freedom in mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone serving in uniform.
He acknowledged, however, that those in the service must follow orders.
In the immediate aftermath of FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, the Pentagon has ordered active-duty military service — including reservists and those in the National Guard — to get the double jab as soon as possible.
As alluded to above, Rob Smith expressed disagreement with the military’s decision to add the COVID shot to the required immunization list.
“As someone who raised my right hand, wore the uniform, and served for five years including combat duty in Iraq, I think a vaccine mandate for soldiers is deeply wrong and an invasion on the civil liberties of Americans,” Smith told the Daily Mail.
“However, once people raise their hands and take that oath they are, in fact, as much property of the U.S. Military as any weapon, tank, or ship. So they don’t really have a choice. I just wish our leaders valued freedom instead of tyranny,” the decorated U.S. Army vet added.
Late last month, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin claimed that COVID-19, particularly the Delta variant, constituted a national security threat.
“About 1,044,924 service members are fully vaccinated, and another 237,082 have had at least one vaccine dose, …Approximately 213,000 service members have contracted the coronavirus since the pandemic started, 28 of whom died,” Stars & Stripes reported earlier this month.
The U.S. Army reportedly has the lowest vaccination rate of the branches (40 percent are fully vaccinated, 57 percent have received the first dose.)
Service members can apply in writing for a health or religion-related waiver, but it remains to be seen how that bureaucratic process will play out in practice.
Service members could face sanctions under military law if they refuse the vaccination, theoretically up to a court-martial or a dishonorable discharge.
Counseling is also available for those who have concerns about the safety or efficacy of the vaccine, particularly if a request for an exemption gets turned down.
It’s also quite likely that some on active duty will voluntarily abandon their military careers entirely to avoid the mandate, which could impact readiness
A legal challenge is possible or likely, but the chances of success could be iffy, given that courts may be deferential to administrative decisions of this kind.
The Pentagon vaccine mandate comes as reports continue to emerge of fully vaccinated persons testing positive for COVID in addition to those unvaccinated, and there is even talk of the necessity of a booster shot, which did not exactly please former President Donald Trump.
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President Joe Biden — who is requiring federal employees and in-person contractors to either get inoculated or submit to regular testing — is also pressuring the private sector to require the COVID vaccine for workers, and more and more employers are seemingly complying.
A federal vaccine passport in civilian life of some kind is apparently not off the table, either, which could set up a constitutional challenge by pro-freedom red states.
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