A 17-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard said he recently resigned his commission rather than continue to serve under Nebraska or federal military leaders.
Nebraska National Guard members who refused the Pentagon mandate to get COVID-19 vaccinations paid a heavy price for their position, state lawmakers were told Thursday.
At a hearing before the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, some of those members reported spending months with their military status in limbo.
They were not allowed to participate in weekend drills or annual training, which affected pay and career progress. They were not authorized to travel or attend military schools necessary for promotion in their careers. Some faced verbal harassment and pressure.
“The past roughly 18 months have been the worst and most mentally taxing, physically draining and spiritually exhausting of my career,” said Master Sgt. Joshua Welter, who has been in the military for more than 15 years.
He joined other guard members in supporting LB642, introduced by Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon, who retired from the military before running for the Legislature.
The bill would require the Nebraska National Guard to undo any penalties members may have suffered for refusing a COVID vaccination. Members who were discharged would have to be invited to rejoin or have their record upgraded to show they were honorably discharged. The bill also would require the removal of any personnel actions or sanctions related to vaccine refusal.
Welter called the bill “a step in the right direction,” although it would not correct everything that guard members have been through.
Like the others who testified, Welter said he sought a religious exemption from the Aug. 24, 2021, requirement to get a COVID vaccination. Some speakers said they had their exemption requests denied, others have not gotten a decision yet.
The mandate was lifted Jan. 10, as required by Congress in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.
Matt Downing, who also has spent more than 15 years in the military, spoke in favor of the bill but said it did not go far enough. He said it would not help those who got out of the service because of “oppression” over the vaccine. Nor would it reimburse those who suffered damage to their careers.
One of those who chose to resign was Adam Cassidy, a 17-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard. He said he recently resigned his commission rather than continue to serve under Nebraska or federal military leaders. . . . . (read more on KPVI News)