Oklahoma Guard Family,
I owe you an update on the latest news concerning the DoD COVID-19 vaccine mandate, specifically the new guidance from the Secretary of the Air Force.
First let me stress again, that as the Governor has repeatedly said, this is an issue of personal responsibility:
Personal responsibility necessitates you educate yourself, because by its very nature it implies you are responsible for the decision and the ultimate outcome.
The Governor did not grant you the right to not take the vaccine, you have always had that right. The Governor has used his authority under Title 32 to grant you a limited safe harbor within his authority to not be subject to Title 10 negative actions for not taking the vaccine.
I fully support the authority of the Governor under the constitution and Title 32 to govern his forces in Oklahoma, as does the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS). It is a legal question as to how far that authority extends. That question will have to be answered in the courts or be addressed in Congress.
As I have said, continued service in the national guard will require connections with Title 10 authority. Such connections including training events, schools, and mobilizations are going to eventually force you out of that safe harbor, and subject you to title 10 authorities. This is reality.
Anyone exercising their personal responsibility and deciding not to take the vaccine, must realize that the potential for career ending federal action, barring a favorable court ruling, legislative intervention, or a change in policy is present.
It is important you do not mistake my vigorous defense of the Governor’s rights under Title 32 as a guarantee you will not face consequences from Title 10 authority. I have no such power.
For example, I recognize the authority of the Secretary under 32 U.S.C. 328 to withhold consent allowing unvaccinated members to be placed on Title 32 Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) orders. This is a valid use of his authority under Title 32 and will be respected.
I would like to share with you again, that I am fully vaccinated, plus the booster. I believe the vaccine to be safe and effective against COVID-19 based on the millions of doses administered.
I also recognize each Soldier and Airmen’s right to choose for themselves. This is a right you have irrespective of the actions of the Governor or myself on your behalf.
It is indeed a matter of personal choice. Please choose wisely. In Oklahoma we will respect your choice and treat you with the respect and dignity your service to our State and Nation has earned.