RAPID CITY, S.D – A group of Republican governors, including South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, submitted an open letter on Wednesday urging congressional leaders to remove the Covid-19 vaccine mandate on members of the military, according to a release on the South Dakota State News website.
The governors said in the letter that the mandate “creates a national security risk” by reducing the number of people willing and able to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The military has required vaccines since Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a memo in August 2021 making vaccines mandatory for all service members, a requirement that the memo called “necessary to protect the Force and defend the American people.”
According to the governors’ letter, 8000 active duty armed forces members have been discharged since the implementation of the mandate, with the National Guard expecting to discharge around 14,000 more in the next two years.
At the same time, both the Army and Army National Guard have missed their yearly recruiting goals by 25% and 10% respectively.