Dear Secretary Wormuth,
We request that you immediately rescind the Army policy that prohibits unvaccinated soldiers, including those with approved medical or religious COVID-19 vaccine exemptions, from completing official travel, including Temporary Duty (TDY), Permanent Change of Station (PCS), no cost PCS, low-cost PCS, and intra-post transfers, without approval from the Under Secretary of the Army (USA).
COVID-19 vaccine mandates are dangerous and wrong enough, but treating unvaccinated soldiers differently than vaccinated soldiers -- even after receiving an exemption -- is unfounded and puts our military readiness at risk. This new directive will unfairly deny soldiers -- who simply followed the tenets of their deeply held religious beliefs or guidance of their doctor -- vital career opportunities, effectively relegating them as second-class soldiers. Additionally, this policy punishes the thousands of other soldiers with pending exemptions requests which they are rightfully allowed to seek.
Putting aside the issue of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate itself -- especially after the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) updated guidance removed the distinction between unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals exposed to COVID-19, and that the COVID-19 vaccine does not prevent transmission or contraction of COVID-19 -- once the Army grants a permanent religious or medical exemption, there is no basis to treat vaccinated and unvaccinated soldiers differently. This political maneuvering will have impacts on our country's military readiness and the trust and morale of our premier fighting force.
Policies like these can contribute to significant recruiting difficulty, compounding the Army's struggle to meet recruiting objectives for FY22. If the Army continues to refuse to recognize the strength of natural immunity, while enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, and applying these shockingly aggressive measures targeting unvaccinated soldiers, we risk damaging our country's military readiness for years to come.
We request that you immediately remove this unfair burden from unvaccinated soldiers and reverse this harmful guidance. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.