Army sends letter to soldiers fired for refusing COVID vaccine amid branch recruiting woes

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The US Army sent a letter to former service members who were dismissed for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, telling them they can request corrections to their discharge records, as the military branch reportedly struggling to recruit three years after the pandemic began.

The letter, which gained traction on social media, was addressed to former service members and was informed of “new Army guidance regarding the correction of military records for former members of the Army following the suspension of the COVID-19 vaccination requirement.” ”

He says, “as a result of eliminating the current COVID-19 vaccination requirements, veterans who have been voluntarily separated for refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine can correct their their military records from one or both of the Army Discharge Review. Board (ADRB) or Army Board for Correction of Military Records (ABCMR).

The letter, signed by Brigadier General Hope C. Rampy, from the US Army Director of Military Personnel Management Office of the Vice Chief of Staff, goes on to attach three forms where “individuals may request corrections to military personnel records, including regarding discharge identification.”

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covid vaccine given to soldier

A soldier receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Army Preventive Medical Services on September 9, 2021 in Fort Knox, Kentucky. (Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

“Persons wishing to apply to return to service should contact their local Army recruiter, US Army Reserve (USAR) or Army National Guard (ARNG) for more information,” he said. decision.

An Army spokesperson on Sunday confirmed the authenticity of the letter to Fox News Digital.

The spokesman said the letter, dated Nov. 1, does not specifically ask former members of the Army who were dismissed for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine to return to service.

The Army provided additional information on Monday.

“As part of the waning process of the overall COVID mandate mandated by Congress, the Army sent the letters after Veterans Day weekend to approximately 1,900 individuals previously separated for refusing to comply with the vaccination order mandatory COVID,” said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Castro told Fox News Digital in an email Monday.

“The letter provides former service members with information on how to request corrections to their military records,” Castro said.

The Instagram accounts @analyzeeducate and @northernprovisions shared a copy of the letter with their hundreds of thousands of followers on Saturday.

soldier receiving covid vaccine

Preventive Medicine Services NCOIC Sgt. 1st Class Demetrius Roberson administers a COVID-19 vaccine on September 9, 2021 in Fort Knox, Kentucky. (Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

“The US Army has sent letters to soldiers discharged for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine, offering to correct their records. that was just honorable,” the post says. “The letter indicates that the Army hopes these soldiers will apply to return to service.”

“The military in general has been going through a major recruitment crisis for the past two years. For both FY2022 and 2023, only the Marine Corps and the Space Force met or exceeded their recruitment goals. their targets by a long shot,” the accounts go on to say.

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“The size of the active duty Army has decreased from 485k in 2021 to 452k now,” the post said. “This is the smallest active duty Army since 1940. In 2022, they missed their recruiting goal by 15,000 soldiers. This crisis has necessitated policy changes, including the removal of a policy that mandated a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Although, after much backup that policy was quickly reinstated About 8,000 soldiers were kicked out for not getting vaccinated, which is a lot even if you ignore the context of the crisis recruit. outside confirmed by the Army as well.”

vaccinated soldiers

In 2021, the Pentagon, with the support of military leaders and President Biden, ordered a COVID-19 vaccine for all military service members. (Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

On October 3, the US Army announced a transformation of its recruiting campaign, emphasizing that “the armed forces are facing the most challenging recruiting environment in a generation.”

At a Pentagon press conference, Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth and Army Chief of Staff Randy George detailed major changes to how the Army identifies and recruits talent by broadening its focus beyond high school students to a larger share of the youth labor market. and create an “increasingly permanent and specialized talent acquisition workforce. ”

It said the Army expects to end fiscal year 2023 with nearly 55,000 hiring contracts, including about 4,600 for the Army’s Deferred Entry Program — recruits that will launch in fiscal year 2024. As a result, the Army said it will meet its end-strength goal of 452,000 active-duty troops.

“The competition for talented Americans is fierce, and it’s completely different than it was 50 or even 20 years ago,” Wormuth said.

Action and Reason noted that the Army separated about 1,900 active duty service members for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine in the nearly year and a half that it was mandatory.

Regarding recruiting problems, the center also cited a July 2022 memo from the Department of the Army that said “America’s military is facing the most challenging recruiting environment since the all-volunteer force was formed in 1973, partially driven by the post-COVID labor market. , intense competition with the private sector, and fewer young Americans interested in uniformed service.” The memo said, “currently, only 23 percent of Americans 17 to 24-year-old fully qualified for service.”

Citing data provided by the military branches, CNN reported in October that only 43 of the more than 8,000 US service members discharged from the military for refusing to ‘ vaccine against COVID-19 has tried to join eight months after the vaccination mandate was officially withdrawn.

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Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin officially suspended the COVID-19 vaccination order for service members on January 10, 2023.

Austin had issued a memo on August 24, 2021, asking service members to get vaccinated against COVID-19. According to Action and Reason, thousands of soldiers unsuccessfully sought a religious exemption from inoculation, including 8,945 soldiers, 10,800 airmen and reservists, 4,172 sailors, and 3,717 Marines.

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