The United States Department of Defense has made a decision regarding COVID vaccinations and members of the National Guard. You might recall the Department of Defense has already mandated that all members of the service must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or apply for and get an approved waiver.

However, up until yesterday, it was unclear as to how that policy would translate into America's army of citizen soldiers, a.k.a. the National Guard. Apparently, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has made a decision regarding that issue. The Associated Press has obtained an internal memo from the DOD regarding the vaccination policy.

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Photo by Jens Schlueter/Getty Images
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In that memo, the AP is reporting that Secretary Austin has decided that members of the National Guard who opt-out of getting their COVID vaccination will be barred from federally funded drills and training. Now, if you're not familiar with how the National Guard works, these soldiers have to attend these training sessions in order to maintain their status in the National Guard.

Courtesy Major Robert W. Allen/Louisiana National Guard
Courtesy Major Robert W. Allen/Louisiana National Guard
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A resulting lapse in status will also result in not getting paid. They will also not receive credit that would count toward their retirement and other federal benefits. Just to be clear, when Guardsmen are on state active duty responding to local emergencies like a hurricane, flood, or ice storm, they are compensated by the state.  However, when they are on training exercises or responding to larger emergencies their compensation comes from the federal government.

As far as the vaccination deadlines go, those have been set by the different military services. For example, members of the Air National Guard must be vaccinated by December. Those who serve in the Army National Guard will have until June.

Based on figures released from the National Guard Bureau about 70% of Guard members have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine. And, as of late November, about 63% of Guardsmen had been fully vaccinated.

Photo Courtesy of The Louisiana National Guard
Photo Courtesy of The Louisiana National Guard
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If you are a member of the National Guard and are not sure what your status is or what it needs to be, we suggest you contact your superiors. They will be able to spell it all out to you in succinct military terms.

Oh, and to all of the National Guard men and women and their families, thank you for your service to our state and our nation.

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