The U.S. Army said Friday that its National Guard and Reserve members must be in compliance with the Department of Defense's COVID-19 vaccine mandate to participate in drills.
According to the Army's statement, service members who have previously refused the COVID-19 vaccine — without an approved "pending exemption" — cannot participate in federally funded training.
The absent, or potentially fired, soldiers will also not receive payment or any retirement credit during this period.
The Army's deadline for getting vaccinated was Thursday. The corps first implemented the vaccine mandate last December, following up on the military-wide mandate from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in August.
The ramifications of Friday's announcement: The Washington Examiner reports that more than 10% of the Army National Guard missed Thursday's vaccine-mandate deadline.
The Examiner also says the Army National Guard is comprised of roughly 330,000 service members.
According to Army estimates, 89% of National Guard members have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 87% are "fully inoculated."
Among Army Reserve members, 89% have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 88% are fully vaccinated.
On Thursday, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., reportedly introduced legislation that would seek to ban federal funds to any government entity or program requiring members of the National Guard to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
That news coincided with reported estimates of 40,000 National Guard members being fired for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
If Blackburn's legislation passes the House and Senate, it would block service members from being removed over vaccine hesitancy.
"Our service members are the bedrock of America," Blackburn told The Daily Caller this week.
"Firing 40,000 Guardsmen for refusing the COVID vaccine would be both a complete disgrace and a threat to our national security. I am honored to stand beside our National Guardsmen and women by introducing this legislation to protect them from President Biden’s forever pandemic."
The Army says it grants exemptions for medical or religious reasons to its soldiers, but on a case-by-case basis; and soldiers who refuse the order without an approved or pending exemption are subject to "adverse administrative actions," like bars to service and official reprimands.
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