Image Credit: Tennessee National Guard / Facebook
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
Governor Bill Lee continues to push the Department of Defense to approve requests from Tennessee National Guard members for exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine requirement that was forced on them by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
The Pentagon previously issued orders stating that all Army National Guard members had to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by June 30, while Air National Guard members were given until December to comply with the forced vaccination.
According to Lee, many guard members have been approved at the state level but are just waiting for a final determination to come from federal Army and Air Force leadership.
Lee wrote in a letter to Austin, “Our force is medically ready, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, and has proven this even as the science on COVID-19 changed drastically.”
He continued, “Rejecting these exemptions would be a choice to reduce the force at the risk of both our state preparedness and our national security,” noting that Tennessee sent 1,700 soldiers to Washington, D.C. in January 2021 and also sent 300 to the Southern Border.
Lee’s attempt to get answers from Washington came after a group of Tennessee National Guardsmen protested the mandate and asked that Lee take action to prevent them from being discharged over the forced vaccination.
On Friday, July 8th, the Army said that any Guard member who was not vaccinated would no longer be allowed to participate in training that was federally funded and would not receive pay or retirement.
Governor Lee says that 93% of Tennessee Guard members have already been vaccinated, higher than the 89% reported by the Army last week.
According to Army data that was released recently, 7,000 temporary exemptions have been granted. Only 6 medical exemptions have been granted to date, and no religious exemptions have been approved so far.
Lee says that the requested exemptions for Tennesseans are not coming from individuals who are just trying to buck the system, but are from those who are “expressing their genuinely held beliefs, not a dishonorable defiance of orders.”
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com