U.S. Army recruiters have updated their recruitment posters to emphasize the removal of the Covid-19 vaccine mandate, aiming to boost enlistment numbers.
The move comes after the Biden Administration’s vaccine requirement, which was in place since August, 2021, was rescinded in January, 2023, after recruiting numbers had faltered significantly.
The vaccine mandate, lasting only 15 months, marked a unique period in U.S. military history as it was the first time a vaccine requirement was reversed. The mandate’s cancellation was influenced by arguments from many Republicans, who claimed that the mandate negatively impacted military recruitment and retention.
Despite the mandate’s repeal, the response from previously discharged service members has been tepid.
Of the over 8,000 service members who were discharged for refusing the Covid-19 vaccine, only 43 have rejoined the military in the eight months following the repeal. A breakdown of the reenlistment numbers reveals that 19 rejoined the Army, 12 returned to the Marines, while the Navy saw two and Air Force saw one reenlistment. Pilots have been especially reluctant to take the shot because of reports of heart problems that arise as a result of the vaccine, problems that may disqualify them from commanding an aircraft.
Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was forced to remove the requirement due to the passage of the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023.
Some who left the military are not returning because the vaccine mandate, combined with an increased emphasis on “woke” values have left them with qualms about serving altogether.