Tuesday, August 10, 2021

So, the Military Has a Vaccine Mandate Coming Up?

Yesterday, SECDEF Austin put out the memo we all knew was coming.

General Mark A. Milley, USA, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, followed up with his own memo that had a handwritten note at the bottom. (NB: old trick knowing that most military eyes will glaze over the typed word, but if in a hurry, will read what is written by hand by the author).

His note is, really, all you need to know.

“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is a key force protection and readiness issue.”

The military has a long history of over compensating when it comes to vaccinations. I have been vaccinated against everything from chicken pox to small pox and everything in between. When wandering through refuge camps, hospitals, and orphanages in Afghanistan, we’d joke that we had nothing to worry about as we had enough vaccines and mercury in our bodies that we were pretty much immortal.

Why is the military like this? We know our history. 

For most of military history at sea and ashore, even at war it isn’t the waging of war that kills most of your people and makes unite combat ineffective, it is disease and the environment. Only in modern times has that changed, and it has changed because of advances in the understanding, technology, and practice of medicine and public health. Vaccines are part of that. We don’t need to review biological warfare – Mother Nature is scary enough on her own.

This is nothing new. Here is what is new; usually the military is ahead of the civilian population when it comes to vaccines. We are society’s guinea pigs. That isn’t the case here. 

In 2021, hundreds of millions of people in and out of the military have taken the vaccines. We roughly know the dangers of it and COVID-19. We know the risks; we know the rewards. We also know that we need ships to go to sea, aircrew to fly, and armies need to take the field. They can’t do that with a force crippled by disease outbreaks. They will happen anyway, but they need to be mitigated and blunted. That is what vaccines are for.

We need people who get sick to get back as soon as practical and with as little long-term impact on their health as possible. That is what vaccines do.

COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere, but the US military is.

We will have a few personnel who have medical reasons not to get the vaccine – but they are incredibly small and known. Unless you are one of those who can trip in to anaphylactic shock or are pregnant (I am in favor of that exemption) then something like MILPERSMAN 1900-120 comes in to play.

General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions.

Do it quickly and get it done.

We have work to do.

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