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Military Purge Due to Vaccine: Guardsmen Fight Back in Tennessee

Photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Dylan Chagnon/Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Hampton rappels from a CV-22 Osprey, not pictured, during helicopter rope suspension techniques training over England, June 16, 2022/Defense.gov

The military is discharging thousands of able-bodied service members because they refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Moreover, soldiers are being discharged for misconduct. Tennesee’s Governor Bill Lee failed to stand up for the Guardsmen in his state, prompting a response from Tennessee National Guardsman Captain Mickey Shelton. Shelton called Governor Bill Lee’s bluff on June 29 when Lee demurred on his authority concerning the COVID-19 vaccine mandated requirements. The deadline for the jab for the military was June 30. Any service member who does not have the jab by the deadline potentially faces discharge. Lee placed the blame for his impotent response to the requirement on the federal government.

However, Lee’s power to address the issue is much more nuanced than federal control of funding, and he knows it. The federal government does indeed fund the National Guard. However, under Title 32, “the control of those troops belongs to the state, and the governor is their Commander in Chief unless they are deployed overseas,” another TN Guardsman confirmed to The Star on July 2.

During an interview with Steve Bannon on his War Room podcast Thursday morning, Shelton made no bones about the message he planned to send to Governor Lee. At the time of the broadcast, 400+ soldiers in Tennesee alone were about to be fired because they didn’t want to take the jab, “and that doesn’t include religious or medical exemptions, so you’re looking at close to 800 or 1000 members here in our own state,” added Shelton.

“This is something we’ve tried to address with the governor,” Shelton told Bannon, “but it seems like he’s just making blanket statements and planned political theater and not doing anything about it. But guard members serve under Title 32, which is state orders. They are federally paid under Title 32.

The Governor still has command authority under Title 32. It’s on everybody’s orders. They get to leave an earnings statement or a paycheck or pay stub every drill weekend or annual training. So the Governor has the control to do something about it.

But just because it’s federal money, the federal government is holding us hostage. And so they’re just not wanting to stick their neck out at this point in time, and I’m hoping they do because you have soldiers that are going to be kicked out.”

Title 32 Explained/https://www.military.com/benefits/reserve-and-guard-benefits/whats-difference-between-title-10-and-title-32-mobilization-orders.html#:~:text=Activation%20under%20Title%2032%20U.S.C.,provided%20by%20the%20federal%20government.

On June 29, Captain Shelton and several other Guardsmen first protested at the Capitol in Nashville before walking their letter directly to the Governor’s office. The Guards asked Lee to file an injunction against the DOD to allow more time for the DOD to consider religious and other exemptions for the shot. Shelton highlighted other states were standing up for their service members and questioned Lee’s rationale. In his interview with Fox17, Shelton stated:

“Is he saying he’s less powerful than the other governors in these other five to six states that stood up against the DOD and pushed back against the DOD and kept his guard members in?”

A depletion of the National Guard is a security risk, said Shelton.

“We respond to natural disasters, floods, tornadoes, sometimes COVID pandemic, sometimes riots, so it’s so important that we don’t deplete our force. We are that security. Are they saying it’s okay that we don’t need a specific number of troops, and can we do without those troops?”

A statement in support of the Guardsman requesting Lee to coordinate an emergency injunction from the Davidson County Republican Party (DCRP) was posted on the afternoon of June 29 on the top banner of their website. The DCRP Executive Committee unanimously voted in support of posting the press release on the site. Shortly after the GOP press release, both the Governor’s office and some in the military responded.

Chairman James Garrett received the following statement at 7:09 p.m. the same day from David Topping, Campaign Manager for Governor Lee. Garrett also received a letter in support of the DCRP’s press release from a retired Colonel in the area:

Bill Lee’s Office/David Topping
Letter from retired Colonel Don Jenkins.

Jeff Beierlein, now a Congressional candidate for TN District 5, served 11 years on active duty. He also sent a note of support on June 30 to  DCRP Executive Committee member, Bart Smith, thanking the “GOP for stepping up,” adding that the “GOV is way behind the curve.”

Biden’s Policies are Destroying Enlistment in the Military

The current administration seems to be hellbent on curbing enlistment in the military in almost every way conceivable. Diversity programming, changes in fitness requirements, and “overall confidence in U.S. Government institutions” are among the contributors to the drop in recruits. According to NBC News:

“The pool of those eligible to join the military continues to shrink, with more young men and women than ever disqualified for obesity, drug use, or criminal records. Last month, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville testified before Congress that only 23% of Americans ages 17-24 are qualified to serve without a waiver to join, down from 29% in recent years.”

Families who have traditionally encouraged military service are also questioning the merits of enlisting. Parents question why their children should join when they perceive military readiness to be poor and woke policies dominate. It comes as no surprise that parents have zero interest in recklessly putting their children in harm’s way. Center for Military Readiness President Elaine Donnelly said in an interview according to The Daily Caller:

“The culture of the military has been eroded by several years of social engineering and woke policies. It’s been accelerated by the current administration.

Among Americans surveyed by the Pentagon who were in the target age range for recruiting, only 13% had parents who had served in the military, down from approximately 40% in 1995. The military considers parents one of the biggest influencers for service.”

In February of 2021, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley ordered a 60-day military stand-down to address the issue of extremism within the ranks of the military. Many worry that such inquiries might amount to nothing more than a purely subjective witchhunt with few objective parameters. Even the DOD press release admits that much needs to be “hammered out.” This is a “thorny problem,” the announcement states:

“One that has raised its head in the past. There is a DOD Instruction aimed at this very problem — DODI 1325.06 ‘Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces’. There are questions that need to be answered, like what constitutes extremist activity? What is permissible in looking for extremists in the ranks?”

Enlistment numbers are at all-time lows. According to the Air-Force Times:

“The Air Force Reserve has reached 21 percent of its 2022 goal; the Air National Guard stands at 16 percent. About 4,800 people entered the Air Force from October to December 2021, compared to more than 7,100 who sought to become enlisted airmen during the same period in 2020. Yet enlisted recruiting targets remained essentially flat between the two years, dipping from 26,641 in 2021 to 26,151 in 2022.”

The Military Times also reports one of the most challenging recruitment years in the history of “voluntary recruitment” as characterized bypersonnel officials from five arms of the military during an FY2023 budget review before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Through the first five months of fiscal 2022,” writes the Military Times, “the service had reached only about 23% of its active-duty goal for new recruits.” Recruitment is literally “drying up,” and it is a “national security crisis,” according to Air Force Pilot John Bowes, who appeared on Roman Balmakov’s Facts Matter show on July 4. Bowes was denied his request for religious accommodation and will be discharged from the service.

The military is losing service members in droves, including experienced pilots. “9500 religious accommodation requests have been denied, roughly 98 percent,” according to Balmakov, and “approximately 40,000 National Guard members will get kicked out.” Bowes stated, “as of April of 2020, DOD numbers show we lost 10,000 service members in a single month—we usually lose that many in 10 years,” he added.

“I am personally aware of more than 700 pilots who are actively unvaccinated. And of those pilots, a survey was conducted of 357 of them to quantify them. Those 357 are worth $7.8 billion in taxpayer funds.

On top of that, their average years of service is 14 years. 69 percent of them are instructor pilots. The implications are massive. We already have a massive pilot shortage. We are going to then discharge our most experienced aviators who have the capabilities to retrain their replacements and fix this pilot shortage. It’s just sad; it’s heartbreaking. It’s really unfortunate.”

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