With the U.S Army setting a deadline of June 30 for all of its service members to get vaccinated or face termination and discharge, the Montana National Guard has summoned all unvaccinated members to attend a “retention symposium” at Fort Garrison, to determine what the next steps will be for anyone who has so far refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Taking place June 5, the session is for service members and their spouses who are either not vaccinated and never intend to, or for members who have requested a medical or religious exemption but have not received it.
It will prove to be a high-pressure situation, as the operation order that went out Monday suggested that attendees would either leave having taken the vaccine, which will be available to be administered on-site, or they will be informed what their options for discharge will be, and what the next steps will look like.
The Air National Guard had its own vaccine deadline back in December, and none of them were let go. According to Public Affairs Officer. Maj. Ryan Finnegan:
“The Montana Army National Guard is currently awaiting implementation guidance from the National Guard Bureau on the administrative next steps for those who have not completed vaccination by the June 30-th deadline.
The key details we’re still waiting to hear on are what level of discharge they may receive. But the latest and most accurate information that we have on will be provided to the group at the June 5 event, along with an opportunity at that time to receive a vaccine dose before they leave for the day.”
So far, of the 3400 US troops who have been kicked “involuntarily separated” from the military for refusing the vaccine, 70% were given general discharge papers, meaning they can rejoin if they decide to take the vaccine. This designation also protects their veteran benefits/. The other 30% represent honorable discharges. In total, more than 99% of all military are either fully or partially vaccinated.
As of the time of this reporting, the Montana Guard revealed that 93.2% of its soldiers have been absolutely or partially vaccinated, 4.5% are in the process of seeking a religious or medical exemption but have not received it yet, and 2.4% of them have not indicated one way or another whether they had taken the vaccine, or started the exception process.