OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma National Guard Adjutant General is warning members that refusing to receive the coronavirus vaccine could end their military careers.
In a letter posted on the State Guard’s website Thursday, Brig. General Thomas Mancino has said that members of the Oklahoma military and air force will ultimately come under the US Department of Defense’s vaccination mandate.
“Anyone who … decides not to take the vaccine should realize that the potential for career-ending federal action, barring a favorable court ruling, legislative intervention, or a change in policy is present, “Mancino wrote in the letter first reported by The Oklahoman.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said members of the National Guard who refuse COVID-19 vaccinations will be barred from federally-funded exercises and training that are necessary to maintain their custody status.
Austin rejected a request from Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt to exempt Oklahoma members from office.
Stitt maintains he is the commander of the state guard when not on active duty at the federal level and the state is suing to rescind the vaccine requirement.
Mancino has said he supports Stitt’s authority over the Guard, but the extent of that authority is a legal question to be answered by the courts or Congress.