Iowa National Guard Leader Says COVID Vaccine Mandate Is A Concern

Statewide Iowa — Iowa National Guard Adjutant General Benjamin Corell says the soldiers in his ranks are a wealth of talent for the state not seen since World War II, but during the annual “Condition of the Guard” address Thursday morning at the Capitol, Corell said the Guard is going to lose some soldiers due to the Pentagon’s COVID vaccine mandate.

After the speech, Corell told reporters about 80 percent of the Iowa Army National Guard soldiers and Iowa Air Guard airmen are fully vaccinated.

Airmen in the Iowa Air Guard faced a December deadline to get vaccinated. The deadline for soldiers in the Iowa Army National Guard is this summer. Some of the unvaccinated are seeking medical or religious exemptions, which must be approved the secretaries of the Army or Air Force.

Corell revealed in early 2021 that he had lingering COVID symptoms after being hospitalized for the virus in November of 2020. He was featured in a state public service announcement encouraging Iowans to get vaccinated.

Last year, Corell says 81 percent of Iowa Army National Guard soldiers who faced the decision reenlisted. The rate was higher among Iowa Air National Guard airmen, as 93 percent reenlisted. Soldiers and airmen sign an initial contract to serve eight years and then are given a choice to reenlist every eight years after that.

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