National Guard vaccine deadlines loom as back and forth between State of Oklahoma and feds continue amid military mandate

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Several thousand Oklahoma National Guard members remain unvaccinated Friday with deadlines looming and the guard stating they will follow Gov. Kevin Stitt’s order citing Title 32.

Airmen only have until early December to get their shots. Those in the Army National Guard have until next June as the tug of war between the state and the federal government continues.

“I’m disappointed,” said Dr. George Monks, a former National Guardsmen. “I think this is something that’s basically really stressing the relationship between the National Guard and full-time military.”

Monks spoke about the military mandates with KFOR on Friday.

“If I was still a guardsman, I would feel like I was a pawn in this political process,” Monks said.

Representative Kevin Hern addresses Soldiers of Bravo Company, 834th Aviation Support Battalion, 90th Troop Command, Oklahoma Army National Guard and their families during the unit's departure ceremony at the OKARNG Army Aviation Support Facility 2 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Oct. 13. (Oklahoma National Guard Photo by Sgt. Anthony Jones)
(Oklahoma National Guard Photo by Sgt. Anthony Jones)

The National Guard said they’re under Stitt’s control and will follow his orders, citing Title 32. Stitt’s order said the guardsmen will face no repercussions for not being vaccinated.

“It’s embarrassing,” Monks said. “I wish it wasn’t happening.”

Right now, out of around 6,700 Army Guardsmen in Oklahoma, roughly 2,500 are vaccinated. That’s about 40 percent. However, their deadline isn’t until next June. As for Air National Guardsmen, 89 percent of them are vaccinated leaving about 250 that are not. Their deadline is much earlier though – Dec. 2.

“It’s like a football team loading up only 55 percent of the football team on the bus to go play the game,” Monks said. “It puts a tremendous burden on the people that are still in the unit that are vaccinated.”

U.S. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said soldiers who refuse to get vaccinated could be barred from continued service. She also talked about “flagging” soldiers, which would prevent them from getting promotions, awards and bonuses. The Oklahoma National Guard, however, stood strong. They sent a statement to KFOR Friday afternoon that can be read in full below:

“The governor’s order to the adjutant general is that no negative or legal action will be taken against Guard members who do not receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Brig. Gen. Mancino acknowledges that the Department of Defense has the authority to create and enforce policy, however under Title 32 USC, Brig. Gen. Mancino cannot overrule the governor’s order.”

OKLAHOMA NATIONAL GUARD

The National Guard told KFOR that those numbers do fluctuate depending on vaccination status and recruitment changes.

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