Neil W. McCabe, the national political editor of The Star News Network, interviewed Chief Warrant Officer 3 Fianna Litvok, a military intelligence technician in the Virginia Army National Guard, about her request for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate exemption, as well as how the mandate is affecting morale in the guard.
McCabe: In Virginia Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin’s June 29 letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, he said that our nation should respect and accommodate National Guardsmen declining to comply with the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate now that the June 30th deadline has passed.
A serving Virginia National Guardsman told The Virginia Star and The Star News Network her perspective on how the vaccine mandate is playing out.
Litvok: The morale and cohesion have been affected in The Virginia Army National Guard by this COVID-19 vaccine mandate. There are a number of us who have for one reason or another decided to put in for an exemption to this vaccine mandate.
McCabe: Chief Foreign Officer 3 Fianna Litvok, a military intelligence technician speaking in her personal capacity, said her decision to request a religious exemption was not difficult.
Litvok: I cannot in good faith and consciously take this vaccine. My body is God’s temple. I cannot do anything to hurt myself or my body.
McCabe: What was difficult is understanding why she and her comrades are in this situation at all, she said.
Litvok: What is so upsetting about putting in this exemption is the fact that I even had to. The Constitution guarantees and codifies my right to live my life according to my faith and conscience.
McCabe: Beyond her religious concerns, there are medical issues not yet resolved, Litvok said.
Litvok: There are some serious safety and health issues related to this vaccine, so I don’t have a ton of confidence about what’s being told to us.
McCabe: In his letter to Austin, Youngkin made the point that Austin was taking Virginia guardsmen off duty just as hurricane season began.
Litvok: We’re the only branch of the military that can serve in our communities. If there’s an issue at home, whether it’s a fire or flood or a hurricane or some sort of civil issue, it’s a National Guard that responds. And it’s if you don’t have enough soldiers to do that, you’re not just hurting the soldiers, you’re hurting everyday Americans.
McCabe: Reporting for The Virginia Star and The Star News Network, Neil W. McCabe, Washington.