TULSA, Okla. — Unvaccinated members of the Oklahoma Air National Guard will NOT be allowed to participate in future drills, following federal vaccine mandates.
Brigadier General Thomas Mancino sent a memo to guards members on Thursday saying the Oklahoma National Guard will comply with federal COVID-19 mandates and repercussions, despite their disagreement.
On Wednesday, a federal judge denied Oklahoma's request for an injunction staying the mandate for guard members.Mancino said that fight is not over, but if guard members don't meet these requirements they will not get pay from the federal government. With that in mind Mancino wrote he 'decided not to allow unvaccinated Oklahoma Air National Guard Drill Status Guardsmen without a medical exemption or religious accommodation request, to participate in any future drill period.' He said the governor agreed with him.
READ Mancino's full memo:
"To the Airmen of the Oklahoma Air National Guard,
The Department of Defense (DoD) has indicated it will recoup any pay provided to unvaccinated Airmen who drill after January 1, 2022. The Department of Defense controls the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) and can enforce this threat outside of the State of Oklahoma’s control.
Additionally, a federal judge recently denied Oklahoma’s request for relief (called “injunctive relief”) which would have temporarily prevented such action. This does not mean that the case is over.
I fully support Governor Stitt’s authority over the Oklahoma National Guard when not federalized, but as I have said before ‘the extent of that authority is ultimately a legal question to be answered by the courts or Congress.’ Above all else, we are a country governed by the rule of law. We may challenge policies in court, but it is our duty to follow a ruling once made.
All I can do as a leader is make the right decisions, for the right reasons, then own them all. I own this one:
With no possibility of injunctive relief before January 1, 2022, I have decided to not allow unvaccinated Oklahoma Air National Guard Drill Status Guardsmen (DSGs), without a medical exemption or religious accommodation request, to participate in any future drill period, except for any Airmen wishing to be vaccinated. The Governor concurs with this decision.
I continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated, if you choose, and will continue to facilitate that option for any Airmen who wish to take it.
This policy only applies to the Air National Guard at this time, as the deadline for Army National Guard Soldiers to be vaccinated is not until this summer."
Governor Stitt released a statement about the decision: "I have done everything in my power under the law to protect the freedoms of Oklahoma Guardsmen. President Biden's decision to mandate COVID vaccines will weaken our operational readiness by driving good men and women out of the Guard by violating their personal and religious freedoms."
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