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County to vote on vaccine mandate

Warren County Commissioners will be voting on a resolution this month requesting the vaccine mandate be lifted for the Tennessee State Guard, Tennessee Army, and Air National Guard. 

At the county Policy and Personnel Committee meeting Friday night, Mickey Shelton, captain of the 230th sustainment brigade out of Chattanooga, came to explain his resolution. It is a resolution requesting the governor of Tennessee and State Attorney General take appropriate action to protect the medical freedom of those serving in the Tennessee Army and Air National Guard and Tennessee State Guard.

Before speaking, Shelton stated what he was about to say were his own opinions and did not represent those of the guard or army. 

“The governor and the adjunct general would at least take further action into looking into the data surrounding the vaccine mandate here in Tennessee. This vaccine mandate was pushed out by the secretary of defense on Aug. 24, 2021 and the active component had a deadline somewhere in November and the National Guard had a deadline of June 30,” said Shelton. “So July 1, if a National Guardsman did not have an exemption, either medical or religious, they would be put on a no-pay status. These guard soldiers who are currently on a no-pay status are not legally allowed to attend drills for liability issues. They are currently accruing debt on their benefits. So they are not getting paid but they are paying into the guard currently.”

The proposed resolution states, “Whereas, said vaccinations are making recruiting efforts difficult, compromising the readiness of the Tennessee Army and Air National Guard, and violate the medical freedom of our guardsmen.”

The resolution urges Governor Bill Lee to “act as follows to mitigate the arbitrary and unjust action of the Biden administration to require COVID-19 vaccinations of Tennessee Guardsmen as a condition of service to our great state and our nation.” 

The requests include: Reinstating the members’ full benefits who have refused the COVID-19 vaccine and publicly condemn the firings and non-pay status. The resolution will also request that the Tennessee Attorney General coordinate a lawsuit and file an emergency injunction with other states against the Department of Defense and the Biden Administration for the “unjust” vaccine mandate published by the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

The resolution also requests: Salary payments be issued to those on a no-pay status relative to State Active Duty (SAD) orders for refusing the vaccine, the Tennessee Adjunct General halt any further firings of Tennessee Army and Air National Guard members who refuse the vaccine, file a request for information and/or subpoena the Tennessee Army and Air National Guard for any documentation related to vaccination results within the state regarding vaccine injuries, guard member retention, and readiness of the force over the past six years and make public any findings and terminate the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the Tennessee State Guard. 

“This is a severe issue they are overlooking and it is always ‘we’ll leave it up to the courts.’ Well it is not even getting to the courts and they are not taking it to the courts so that’s the issue. Yes, the governor says he wants to push back and I don’t want to be demeaning toward any elected official, but to me it sounds more like lip service than it does actually taking action. Words are one thing, actions are another,” said Shelton. 

The committee voted to send this resolution to full court this month. The county commission meeting will be Dec. 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Warren County Administrative Building.