Press Releases

Johnson: The Biden Administration’s Military Vaccine Mandate is Harming Military Readiness by Creating Unnecessary Recruiting and Retention Shortfalls

Says Pentagon is trying to make up the difference by reducing crucial education and fitness standards

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2022 — United States Representative Mike Johnson (LA-04) today said “the Biden Administration is harming the readiness of our Armed Forces by creating an unnecessary recruiting and retention shortfall and trying to make up the difference by reducing other crucial education and fitness standards.”

The Army Reserve and Army National Guard deadline imposed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination is tomorrow — Thursday, June 30th. 13% of the National Guard, 10% of the Reserve, and at least 24,250 active soldiers will now face expulsion for not receiving the mandatory COVID vaccine. In some states, approximately 25% of National Guardsmen are unvaccinated.

In addition to Army retention, Army recruitment is also failing: The Army has met just 40% of its recruiting target for 2022 — despite dropping the requirement to have a high school diploma or GED.

“All of this over an illness that is extremely unlikely to have any significant effect on the young men and women of our military, and a vaccine that lacks long-term data on safety and efficacy for this cohort,” Johnson continued.

“There is simply no way around it,” Johnson concluded. “Until the Secretary of Defense withdraws, delays, or modifies the vax mandate, or begins rapidly granting more exemptions, our military will have to continue reducing recruitment standards—degrading the readiness and professionalism of our Armed Forces.”

Further background:

  • The recruiting crisis is only accelerating: In April, the Army offered $10K for potential recruits to go to basic training within 30 days. In June, the Army offered $25K, and last week, the Army began offering recruits in any career field $35K to ship to training.
  • Over 40% of 18-24 year old men have refused the COVID vaccine. This is the Army’s target demographic. In the Southern U.S. — which produces nearly half of enlistments — the proportion of unvaccinated young men is even higher.

Congressman Johnson is the Vice Chairman of the House Republican Conference, a member of the House Judiciary and Armed Services Committees, and a former constitutional law litigator.