Texas is the seventh state to turn down any role in enforcing the Pentagon’s vaccine mandates upon its state National Guard servicemen, setting up a possible showdown between the federal government and the state over the matter.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced his refusal to direct the Texas National Guard to abide by the federal vaccine mandates, in a letter sent to Def. Secretary Austin earlier in the month. The Governors of Mississippi, Wyoming, Nebraska, Alaska, and Iowa have originally expressed similar sentiment to the Sec. of Defense, with Oklahoma being the first state to fight the vaccine mandates when Thomas Mancino, the state adjutant general, ordered that zero service members will face negative consequences for not getting vaccinated.
“The State of Texas won’t enforce this new COVID vaccine mandate on its national guard,” Abbott wrote in the letter to Sec. Austin. “If the government continues threatening to defund the Texas National Guard, I will use every legal tool that’s available to me as Gov. in defense of these true American heroes.”
The federal government is continuing its efforts to force the vaccine mandates on state National Guards, with a lower percentage of guardsmen being vaccinated than active-duty national guardsmen. The federal government keeps threatening to withhold benefits and pay for guardsmen who are not vaccinated, possibly jeopardizing their chances of participating in certain operations in which state guards can be activated for federal service.
Governor Abbott, as well as General Thomas Mancino, have cautioned the federal government that any vaccine mandate on the national guard stands to adversely affect recruitment and retention, with the former stating that it could “hollow out” the Texas National Guard.
State governors have claimed the National Guard service members are exempt from the vaccine mandate while they are under state control, with the feds claiming in turn that they will withhold pay and funding for those that refuse the vaccine.
Governor Abbott is promising to “deploy all legal tools available to me as Gov. in defense of these American heroes” in continuing any legal disputes over the vaccine mandates that apply to the Texas National Guard.
Author: Blake Ambrose