This move comes amidst the military's struggle to meet recruitment targets, a challenge that has been attributed to the perceived politicization of the armed forces.
In a recent communication to these former service members, the Army announced the rescission of the vaccine requirement and the possibility for these individuals to apply for a return to service. This follows the Army's decision last year to enforce separations for unvaccinated service members, and the subsequent announcement in early 2023 to rescind the mandate for current service members and applicants.
The letter, made available on X, states: "Dear Former Service Member, We write to notify you of new Army guidance regarding the correction of military records for former members of the Army following rescission of the COVID-19 vaccination requirement."
The letter further explains, "As a result of the rescission of all current COVID-19 vaccination requirements, former Soldiers who were involuntarily separated for refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccination may request a correction of their military records from either or both the Army Discharge Review Board (ADRB) or the Army Board for Correction of Military Records (ABCMR)."
The communication also clarifies that "Individuals may request a correction to military personnel records, including records regarding the characterization of discharge" and advises those interested in rejoining to "contact their local Army, US Army Reserve (USAR) or Army National Guard (ARNG) recruiter for more information."
Under President Biden's administration, the Army had discharged unvaccinated service members, asserting that "Unvaccinated Soldiers present risk to the force and jeopardize readiness." The directive was issued by Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth, who ordered commanders "to initiate involuntary administrative separation proceedings against any Soldier who has refused the COVID-19 vaccination order and does not have an approved or pending exemption request."
The vaccination order was applicable to regular Army Soldiers, reserve-component Soldiers serving on Title 10 active duty, and cadets.
This development coincides with escalating tensions in the Middle East due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, leading to speculations of a potential World War III.