News from MHCE
AUGUST 2021 EDITION
COVID-19 Vaccine for
The Defense Department will require U.S.
troops to get COVID-19 vaccines starting
mid-September or as soon as the Food
and Drug Administration approves it --
"whichever comes first," according to a
memo released Monday by the Pentagon.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in the
memo to troops that he would not "hesitate
to act sooner or recommend a different
course to the President if I feel the need to
do so" should the need arise with increasing
cases attributed to the Delta variant.
"I will seek the President's approval to make
the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-
September, or immediately upon [approval
by the Food and Drug Administration,]
whichever comes first," he added.
Austin said the department will spend
the next several weeks "preparing for the
"I have every confidence that Service
leadership and your commanders
will implement this new vaccination
program with professionalism, skill, and
compassion. We will have more to say
about this as implementation plans are fully
developed," he wrote.
The decision comes a week after President
Joe Biden told defense officials to develop
a plan requiring troops to get vaccinated
-- part of his broader campaign to require
vaccinations among the federal workforce.
Since the vaccines were authorized by
the FDA under emergency use, they have
been voluntary for all service members.
Military officials have maintained since
last November -- before the vaccines had
even been approved under an emergency
use authorization -- that they would remain
voluntary for personnel until the FDA
issued formal approval.
But that was seven months before the
highly contagious Delta variant began
sweeping across the country, increasing
case numbers and upping the likelihood that
other, possibly more virulent, mutations
could occur, according to Johns Hopkins
University medical experts.
After months of declining coronavirus
infections in U.S. troops -- 6,006 cases in
May and 6,574 cases in June, according
to the DoD -- cases soared to more than
11,200 in July.
Shortly after Austin's memo was released
Monday, Biden issued a statement praising
the decision, saying the country is on a
"wartime footing" against the virus.
"We cannot let up in the fight against
COVID-19, especially with the Delta
variant spreading rapidly through
unvaccinated populations," Biden said.
In a briefing with reporters Monday,
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said
there's no evidence that vaccine refusal is a
widespread problem in the military.
"Members of the military understand
when you sign up for the military, that
there are requirements laid upon you," he
said. "Some of those requirements include
being healthy and fit and ready to serve.
Some of that depends on our requirement
to make sure you're fit and healthy, through
inoculation and vaccination."
Kirby said individual cases in which service
members refuse to get vaccinated will
likely be handled at the command level.
Vaccine holdouts have expressed a number
of reasons why they have yet to get the
A senior airman stationed in Georgia
who spoke on the condition of anonymity
said he has not had the shots because he
has concerns about the messenger RNA
technology used in the Pfizer and Moderna
vaccines, a new technique to elicit an
immune response. The vaccines are the
first to use the technology after 30 years of
"Once FDA approves it, you know, I'm
all for it," the airman said. "I go out, and
I wear my mask. ... I don't think COVID
is something that should be downplayed.
I will have no problem taking the vaccine.
It's just not FDA approved yet."
He added that he also is concerned that
the Department of Veterans Affairs would
not be required to provide health care
or disability compensation to those who
received it on a voluntary basis, should the
vaccine cause long-term health effects.
"Let's say somewhere down the road, we
come down with some disability because of
something that was caused by the vaccine.
That's not to say it will happen, but if it
does, and come back to the VA, they're
gonna be like, 'Well, it was voluntary at
the time -- you got it under your own free
will,'" he said.
Once service members are officially
required to get the vaccine, Kirby said,
their status will be tracked in their
electronic medical records, along with
But details on exactly what the new policy
will mean for service members are still
scarce and will be laid out in an upcoming
The Pentagon believes the services have
enough vaccine doses on hand to inoculate
everyone, Kirby said.
The services will have to periodically report
to Austin on how well the vaccination effort
is going, Kirby said, but how that will work
still has yet to be determined.
The exact number of active-duty personnel
who have received the vaccine has not been
Kirby said Monday about 73% of the
active-duty force has received at least one
vaccine shot, and roughly 62% are fully
According to Defense Department data
released last week, the numbers are lower
across the services when including the
Reserve and National Guard forces, with
50% of all U.S. troops fully vaccinated and
another 11% with at least one dose.
More than 212,000 military personnel
have contracted COVID-19, giving them
natural immunity to reinfection for at least
eight months, according to research -- a
common reason some say they don't need
However, immune responses differ in
individuals, and vaccines evoke a stronger,
more universal response, which scientists
say could protect people longer than natural
immunity alone, according to research
published in June in the journal Science
Concern about the Defense Department's
previous handling of the anthrax vaccine
rollout also is cited by hesitant service
members as a reason for not wanting to get
the COVID-19 vaccine. The DoD launched
a mandatory anthrax vaccine program in
1998 using an immunization that had been
authorized under emergency use. Nearly
immediately, troops reported side effects,
including fever and chills, nausea and body
The airman cited the anthrax vaccine
program as one of the reasons service
members are concerned about the vaccine.
He described Austin's decision as a "bad
move on his part ... given that already too
many people in the military really don't
trust their government."
But, he added, he now will get his shot.
"I have it in writing that it was mandatory,"
In his memo, Austin recommended that
troops just go ahead and get their vaccines.
"I strongly encourage all DoD military and
civilian personnel -- as well as contractor
personnel -- to get vaccinated now and for
military Service members to not wait for
the mandate," he wrote.
2 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us AUGUST 2021 EDITION
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Female Veterans May
Soon have Access
to Mammograms in
15 States Where VA
Doesn’t Perform Them
In the bill, senators also order the
VA Office of Inspector General
to investigate veterans’ access
to mammography, the quality of
the screenings and the overall
performance of medical providers
who treat veterans with breast
“The VA is uniquely positioned
to be a leader in the fight against
breast cancer,” Boozman said in
a statement. “By harnessing the
research and technology available
nationwide, the department can be
better suited to address the needs
of breast cancer patients across the
Earlier this week, Boozman
introduced another bill that would
require the VA to begin conducting
mammograms at younger ages for
The Supporting Expanded
Review for Veterans in Combat
Environments bill would extend
access to mammograms for all
female veterans who served in
areas with burn pits or other toxic
exposures, regardless of their age,
symptoms or family history.
According to a report from the
National Institutes of Health,
female veterans and female
military personnel are estimated
to be 40% more likely to develop
breast cancer than the general
WASHINGTON — Senators
introduced legislation Thursday
that aims to extend mammogram
services to female veterans in the
15 states where the Department of
Veterans Affairs doesn’t perform
The bill, titled the Mammography
and Medical Options for Veterans
Act, gives the VA one year to
start a pilot program for veterans
who live in states where the
department doesn’t offer in-house
mammography services. Those
states are Washington, Oregon,
Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah,
North Dakota, South Dakota,
Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana,
Mississippi, Vermont, New
Hampshire and Maine.
Senators suggested the program
could use VA community-based
outpatient clinics, rural health
clinics, mobile mammography
clinics or other facilities to conduct
mammograms and send them to the
VA’s central tele-mammography
center for interpretation by expert
“The best way we can fight breast
cancer is with early detection
and top-notch preventative care
— plain and simple,” said Sen.
Jon Tester, D-Mont., one of the
sponsors of the bill. “That’s why
it’s critically important that we
expand every veteran’s access to
high-quality cancer screening and
care, no matter where they live.”
Tester introduced the bill, along
with Sens. John Boozman,
R-Ark., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii,
and Susan Collins, R-Maine.
Reps. Julia Brownley, D-Calif.,
and Mariannette Miller-Meeks,
R-Iowa, are leading the House
In addition to extending access to
mammograms for veterans in rural
areas, the bill makes sweeping
changes to VA mammography.
In part, it would upgrade all of
the VA’s in-house mammography
services to use 3D imaging, called
digital breast tomosynthesis.
DBT builds a three-dimensional
image of a breast to better detect
and diagnose cancer, especially
for women with dense tissue.
Congress passed a law last year
that required the Pentagon to make
3D screenings available to activeduty
service members, retirees and
Currently, 88% of the department’s
mammography sites use 3D
screenings. The bill requires the
VA to offer them at the remaining
The legislation also mandates
the VA create plans and conduct
studies around breast cancer
treatment. The department would
be required to release a strategic
plan for mammography, which
looks at improving imaging, male
breast cancer, the evolving needs
of female veterans, as well as the
disparities in care between rural
and urban veterans.
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WEBSITE AT MHCE.US
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Positive COVID-19 Test
Shatters US Soldier’s
Dream of Olympic Gold
in Pole Vaulting
After three athletes reported casual contact with Kendricks, the
Australia confined its entire 54-person track-and-field team to
isolation and subjected it to testing, according to NBC News.
Team USA’s KC Lightfoot and Christopher Nilsen came through
Saturday’s pole-vault heats with vaults of 5.75 meters. Matt Ludwig,
called in as a replacement for Kendricks, missed out on the final,
scheduled for Tuesday, after a top vault of 5.5 meters.
TOKYO — An Army reserve officer has withdrawn from the Olympic
pole-vaulting contest after testing positive for the coronavirus days
before he was to compete.
One of Team USA’s leading contenders for gold in Tokyo, 1st Lt. Sam
Kendricks, 28, was one of several athletes who tested positive for
the virus on Thursday, a day before track-and-field events kicked off
at the new National Stadium. He serves in the 655th Transportation
Company of the U.S. Army Reserve.
VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT MHCE.US
Kendricks’ positive test was confirmed in an email Saturday by
Brittany Nelson, an Installation Management Command spokeswoman
supporting athletes from the Army World Class Athlete Program in
“The health and safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top
priority,” the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee later tweeted.
“We are saddened to confirm that Sam Kendricks tested positive for
COVID-19 and will not compete in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.”
In alignment with local rules and protocols, Kendricks was transferred
to a hotel to be placed in isolation and is being supported by staff from
the committee and from USA Track & Field, the committee said in a
"Sam is an incredible and accomplished member of Team USA and
his presence will be missed," said a subsequent tweet.
The two-time reigning world pole-vault champion and bronze medalist
at the Rio Olympics in 2016 was among two dozen people associated
with the games to test positive for the coronavirus respiratory disease
on Thursday. That’s the same day Tokyo announced 3,865 new
infections, the most ever recorded by the prefecture in one day.
As of Friday, 220 people who traveled to Japan to participate in the
Olympics had tested positive, according to the country’s Kyodo news
10 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us AUGUST 2021 EDITION
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Two Sailors, Including an
Active-duty Doctor, Die from
WASHINGTON — Two sailors — including an active-duty doctor — have died
within the last week of complications from the coronavirus, the Navy announced in
a statement Wednesday.
Navy Capt. Corby Ropp, 48, died Friday due to coronavirus-related complications at
Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., according to the Navy.
Ropp served as the department leader of ophthalmology and refractive surgery at
the Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command at Marine Corps Base Camp
Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C.
In total, about 205,910 troops have tested positive for the coronavirus since the
beginning of the pandemic, according to the Pentagon. More than 1.2 million activeduty,
Reserve, and National Guard troops have received at least one dose of the
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for months has been considering whether to mandate
the vaccines once they receive full approval from the Food and Drug Administration,
acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker said in June.
Federal law prevents vaccines under emergency-use authorization from becoming
mandatory unless the president finds it necessary.
President Joe Biden is expected on Thursday to announce vaccine requirements
for all federal employees or face repeated testing, The Washington Post reported
The Pentagon has not said whether such a requirement would apply to service
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our shipmate and ophthalmologist Capt.
Ropp,” said Capt. Reginald Ewing III, commander of NMRTC Camp Lejeune. “Our
thoughts and prayers are with Capt. Ropp’s family, coworkers and friends during this
extremely difficult time.”
On Monday, Petty Officer 1st Class Allen Hillman, a master-at-arms assigned to
Navy Reserve Volunteer Training Unit in Boise, Idaho, died while hospitalized with
Cmdr. Megan Fine, commander of the Navy Operational Support Center in Boise,
said in the statement that Hillman “was a big part of our community.”
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and shipmate MA1 Hillman,”
Fine said. “We will continue to support his family and shipmates during this difficult
The Navy did not say whether the sailors had been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
As of July 21, 26 service members had died from the coronavirus and 1,832 were
hospitalized, according to the Pentagon. The sailors’ deaths bring the total to at least
12 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us AUGUST 2021 EDITION
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Pentagon Brings Back Masks-for-all Mandate for Many DoD
Locations as Biden Mulls New Vaccination Plan
The Pentagon on Wednesday announced it
would once again require all individuals to
wear face coverings when indoors at Defense
Department facilities in locations deemed
high risk by federal health officials for the
spread of coronavirus.
The directive from Deputy Defense Secretary
Kathleen Hicks on Wednesday walks back
guidance issued in May that allowed service
members and others who had been fully
vaccinated against the virus to forgo maskwearing
at Defense Department facilities
worldwide. It comes one day after the national
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
issued new guidance encouraging vaccinated
Americans to don masks indoors in certain
locations where the coronavirus is spreading
“Deputy Secretary Hicks has directed that all
individuals, regardless of vaccination status,
wear masks in indoor settings at Department
of Defense installations and facilities in
areas of substantial or high transmission, as
defined by the CDC, to protect against rising
[coronavirus] cases,” said Jamal Brown,
a Pentagon spokesman. “[Wednesday’s]
announcement applies to all service members,
federal personnel, contractors, and visitors
when indoors at all properties owned by the
department in those areas, in accordance with
updated CDC guidelines.”
The Defense Department change on mask
requirements came just one day before
President Joe Biden was expected to issue
new rules for federal employees, potentially
including military troops, related to the virus
as infection rates increase and the White
House pushes for more eligible Americans to
The president has placed blame on
unvaccinated adults for increasing
transmission rates primarily with the highly
infectious delta variant of the coronavirus.
"The pandemic we have now is a pandemic
of the unvaccinated," Biden said Wednesday,
urging unvaccinated Americans to “please,
please, please” get their shots.
Biden was expected to announce Thursday
afternoon that most federal employees
show proof that they had been fully
vaccinated against the coronavirus or agree
to regular testing, stringent social distancing
requirements, masking up and restrictions on
their travel, The Associated Press reported,
citing an unnamed administration official.
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The official said those who chose not to get
vaccinated would not be at risk of losing their
AP reported it was not clear ahead of Biden’s
announcement if he would lump active-duty
military troops and federal contract workers
into the new requirements.
Pentagon data updated on Wednesday showed
about 48% of the military’s total active-duty,
National Guard and Reserve force — or
1,027,730 service members — had been fully
WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 15
vaccinated. Another 233,565 troops were
partially vaccinated, according to the data.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced
July 16 that more than 70% of the active-duty
force had been at least partially vaccinated,
but the Pentagon has not provided updated
data on active-duty troops since then.
The U.S. military has reported 208,603 troops
have tested positive for the virus since the
pandemic began. Pentagon data released
Wednesday showed more than 5,000 active
cases. Twenty-eight service members have
died from complications of the virus.
The White House official said new rules were
meant to encourage an increase in vaccination
rates in the country, setting an example for
employers to set their own get-vaccinated or
tested regularly policies, the AP reported.
Regardless, federal officials want unvaccinated
and vaccinated individuals to return to maskwearing
indoors in those locations deemed
by the CDC to have substantial or high
coronavirus transmission rates.
The CDC has defined those areas of the
country, broken down by individual county,
as displaying substantial coronavirus
transmission rates if more than 50 cases per
100,000 persons were reported in the previous
seven days. Those reporting more than 100
cases per 100,000 persons are deemed to have
high transmission rates. On Wednesday, the
CDC reported 1,608 of 3,219 U.S. counties
fell into the high transmission rate category.
Another 537 were listed within the substantial
transmission rate category.
A CDC map of county statuses showed high
or substantial transmission across most of the
U.S. southeast, where vaccination rates trail
other parts of the country. But at least some
counties reporting significant or high rates of
infection appeared to be present in all 50 states.
Updated information on local transmission
rates and other coronavirus-related data is
In the Defense Department
memorandumannouncing the changes on
Wednesday, Hicks said military installations
and other DOD facilities should post signs
at their locations and information on their
websites outlining current guidance, including
whether fully vaccinated individuals must
wear masks indoors in that location “as soon
Defense Department personnel who do not
comply with current orders regarding face
masks could be punished, defense officials
Hicks directed service members and DOD
civilian employees to “continue to comply
with CDC guidance regarding areas where
masks should be worn, including within
The change comes as federal health officials
expressed increasing concerns about the
highly transmissible delta variant of the
virus spreading throughout the country and
increasing hospitalization rates in many areas
of the United States.
While CDC officials and Biden have said in
recent days that the vast majority of cases,
about 90%, have spread among those not
vaccinated against the coronavirus, officials
have warned they have seen more so-called
breakthrough cases of the virus infecting fully
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said
breakthrough infections remain rare and
the “vaccines work just as we thought they
would.” However, where health officials once
thought vaccinated individuals were unlikely
to spread the disease, new data shows they
can spread the new variant to others, she said.
“With the delta variant, we can now see in
outbreak investigations in these recent weeks
… that you can actually now pass it to someone
else,” Walensky said Wednesday on CNN.
"For every 20 [fully vaccinated] people, one
or two of them could get a breakthrough, they
may only get mild disease, but we wanted
them to know they could bring that mild
disease home, they could bring it to others.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs on
Monday announced it would require its
medical workers to receive coronavirus
vaccines. The department, the first federal
agency to mandate vaccination for any of its
personnel, gave employees until Sept. 20 to
be fully vaccinated.
16 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us AUGUST 2021 EDITION
for Medical Staff
WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans
Affairs announced Monday that it will require
its hundreds of thousands of medical workers to
receive coronavirus vaccines.
The department is the first federal agency to
implement a vaccine mandate. Employees
have until Sept. 20 to be fully vaccinated, VA
Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement.
“Whenever a veteran or VA employee sets foot
into a VA facility, they deserve to know that we
have done everything in our power to protect
them from [the coronavirus],” McDonough said.
“With this mandate, we can once again make —
and keep — that fundamental promise.”
President Joe Biden confirmed news of the
mandate while speaking in the Oval Office,
where he was meeting Monday with Mustafa al-
Kadhimi, Iraq’s prime minister.
“Veterans Affairs is going to, in fact, require
that all doctors working in facilities are going to
have to be vaccinated,” Biden said.
The new mandate applies to all Title 38
employees, which includes VA physicians,
dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered
nurses, physician assistants and chiropractors, as
well as medical workers who visit VA facilities.
As of Monday, 300,099 department employees
were vaccinated against the virus. The
department employs about 378,000 people,
including 367,000 full-time health care
Since the start of the pandemic, 146 VA workers
have died from the coronavirus. Four employees
— all of whom were unvaccinated — died in
recent weeks. Three of the deaths were attributed
to the coronavirus “delta” variant.
The World Health Organization said the delta
variant is the most transmissible of the variants
identified during the pandemic, and cases are on
the rise in the United States. The VA reported
3,787 active cases of the coronavirus Monday,
up nearly 200% from earlier in the summer.
Overall, 12,679 VA patients have died of the
virus since the start of the pandemic.
The VA said Monday that there was an outbreak
of the virus among unvaccinated employees and
trainees at a VA law enforcement training center.
Shortly before the VA issued its mandate
Monday, 57 groups representing doctors, nurses
and other health care workers issued a joint
letter, calling for mandatory vaccinations of all
health care workers in the United States.
“Universal vaccination of health care workers
is the single most important step health care
institutions can do to stop the spread of [the
coronavirus],” Georges Benjamin, executive
director of the American Public Health
Association, said in a statement. “It is essential
for protecting the health of their workers, the
safety of their patients and ultimately the health
of their communities.”
As cases of the delta variant began to increase
last month, McDonough said he was considering
a vaccine mandate. At the time, he had just issued
a policy offering employees take a half day off
from work in exchange for getting vaccinated.
McDonough said then that he had the authority
to mandate employees to receive vaccines, but
he first wanted to see the outcome of the new
The VA does not have specific data on the
numbers of employees vaccinated by location.
Anecdotally, McDonough said VA facilities
with the highest rates of employee vaccination
were about 85% vaccinated. That includes
the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care
System in New Orleans, which was an epicenter
of the virus early in the pandemic.
On the lower side, fewer than 60% of staff at
some VA facilities were vaccinated, including the
St. Cloud VA Health Care System in Minnesota.
“My goal has been that by August, we’re in a
position to provide more care and benefits than
before the pandemic,” McDonough said in June.
“Our ability to do that is enhanced by getting
more of our personnel vaccinated.”
AMVETS, a national veterans organization,
praised the mandate, calling it a “bold, important
step” to improve veterans’ safety. Joe Chenelly,
the group’s executive director, said in a statement
that the organization has heard from veterans
who are choosing to go without health care for
fear of getting infected with the coronavirus at a
VA hospital or clinic.
“Every VA employee coming into contact with a
veteran should be expected to take every measure
possible to ensure they are not endangering
veterans who are in VA facilities,” he said.
However, Chenelly said he was also concerned
about the mandate leading to more staff vacancies
across the VA health care system. The workforce
grew by 2.6% in 2020, but the department still
had about 28,000 vacancies in May, according to
publicly available data.
It was unclear Monday about how the department
would handle cases in which employees refused
to get vaccinated.
WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 17
18 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us AUGUST 2021 EDITION
profession has a "uniform" or acceptable
standard of dress. If you are unsure about
the uniform of the company where you will
interview, check it out in advance. Look at
people as they enter and exit the building.
Gauge for yourself what is appropriate.
advice, and more delivered directly to your
to Dress for
"Business casual" is a phrase that is used
quite liberally throughout the country right
now. The trend began during the last decade
when corporate America came to a collective
understanding that employees don't
necessarily work better when they are dressed
up. In fact, some companies probably found
that comfortable clothing actually increased
Basically, the rule to remember is that
business casual does not mean casual. It does
not mean that you can dress however you
want. It does not mean jeans and a t-shirt.
You are still expected to look professional.
For men, a business casual wardrobe should
consist of several long-sleeved cotton oxford
shirts; a few cotton polo or golf shirts; chinos
in acceptable colors (khaki, dark blue, olive
green, or stone); wool slacks; and a sport
If defining business casual is difficult for
men, it is much more difficult for women. An
oxford shirt and chinos can look very tailored
and polished, but not necessarily feminine.
Try experimenting with scarves or blouses
with a bit of detailing. The addition of a blazer
always projects authority and credibility.
Business Casual for Interviews
Whether or not to interview in business
casual clothing is a question that must be
answered on a case-by-case basis. Ask the
human resources director or your interviewer,
in advance, what attire is expected at the
interview — professional or business casual.
If you do not receive a satisfactory answer,
play it safe: wear your tried-and-true suit.
Decoding "Civilian Uniforms"
Uniforms are not just for military
servicemembers, police officers, hospital
professionals, or mechanics. Just about every
As a rule, uniforms tend to break out in one
of the following categories:
Find the Right Veteran Job
Conservative suit or
business casual attire;
leather briefcase or softside
or conservative suit;
designer briefcase or
Business casual or
casual; soft-side nylon
computer case or
Can range from
fashionably trendy to
jeans and t-shirt; funky
backpack or sling
Style of dress emulates
that of the boss, but on a
less expensive scale
Whether you want to polish your resume, find
veteran job fairs in your area or connect with
employers looking to hire veterans, Military.
com can help. Sign up for a free Military.com
membership to have job postings, guides and
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20 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us AUGUST 2021 EDITION
3 Things They Don’t Tell
Veterans About the Civilian
On a recent mentoring call with a
veteran who left the Army two years
ago, the conversation hit a troubling
spot when he shared, “I guess I
didn’t realize this would be what the
civilian workplace would look like.”
We’d been focusing our conversation
on some of the personality challenges
he was encountering with peers and
supervisors in this, his first postmilitary
job. He didn’t get along
well with his boss, and some of his
colleagues had voiced concerns
about his work ethic and ability to
“It’s like he wants to do everything
by himself to get all the credit,” one
colleague shared with his boss.
When I reminded him about several
of the differences between the
typical civilian sector culture and the
military, he sighed and repeated, “I
didn’t know it would be this way.”
experience so customers, employees,
investors, etc., will believe certain
truths and feel certain ways, we must
remember that brand drives a desire
to purchase, refer or engage with
the company, product or service.
Companies invest billions of dollars
and hours building and securing
the experience of their company to
attract the best workers and earn
loyalty from their customers and
stakeholders. This may feel like a
different set of goals and priorities to
someone from the military. You’ve
been focused on solving problems
and getting results. If someone’s
feelings were trampled on in the
process, that’s a risk everyone
takes to complete the mission. In a
civilian company, how people feel
and whether they believe they are
valued, appreciated, included and
heard supports the company brand
and is important.
2. Priorities and “mission” look
different.Similarly, the mission
or goals you’ll now be focused on
look vastly different. There’s an
honor in serving a mission as noble
and selfless as protecting a nation.
Now you may be asked to advance
and grow paper sales in a new
market region of the city or ensure
passengers make it safely to their
vacation destination. This can feel
disheartening and disappointing if
you’re expecting to feel a connection
to a mission similar to what you did
3. Not everyone will value the same
things as you. Your colleagues, boss
and customers might not feel your
sense of commitment to a cause,
selfless duty and service before
self. They might care more about a
paycheck, staying out of trouble and
vacation time. That doesn’t make
them wrong and you right; it’s just
different. They might not all want
to lead and empower others. They
might choose to keep their heads
down and avoid being noticed. Or
they might put their needs and goals
above yours and sabotage your
efforts to protect themselves and
their career. While my hope is that
this is the exception rather than the
norm, it may happen. And you likely
didn’t see a lot of this behavior in the
The civilian sector is not selfish, selfcentered
and profit motivated above
all else. But occasionally, you might
encounter colleagues or supervisors
who display this behavior. While it
may surprise and annoy you that by
showing your own values of service,
loyalty, commitment and honor, you
can stay true to yourself and perhaps
become a role model for those
Creating a Culture
As you get ready to separate and plan
for a career or life after the military,
here are my top three insights into
the civilian world that you should
be ready for. Even though you were
a civilian beforeyou joined the
military, and you’ve likely interacted
with civilians during your time in
uniform, the differences are worth
1. The civilian sector values the
experience. While the goal of almost
any business or organization is to
drive results (make things, sell things
or solve problems), these companies
put a value on how things get done,
not just the result. How teams
work, how employees feel about
their employer and the processes
by which objectives are met matter.
When you consider that a brand --
company, product or service brand --
is about setting an expectation of an
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24 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us AUGUST 2021 EDITION
Potential Military Vaccine
Mandate Brings Distrust,
SAN DIEGO — Since President Joe
Biden asked the Pentagon last week to
look at adding the COVID-19 vaccine
to the military's mandatory shots,
former Army lawyer Greg T. Rinckey
has fielded a deluge of calls.
His firm, Tully Rinckey, has heard
from hundreds of soldiers, Marines and
sailors wanting to know their rights
and whether they could take any legal
action if ordered to get inoculated for
“A lot of U.S. troops have reached out
to us saying, ‘I don’t want a vaccine
that's untested, I'm not sure it's safe, and
I don’t trust the government's vaccine.
What are my rights?'" Rinckey said.
Generally, their rights are limited since
vaccines are widely seen as essential
for the military to carry out its missions,
given that service members often eat,
sleep and work in close quarters.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said
he is working expeditiously to make
the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for
military personnel and is expected to
ask Biden to waive a federal law that
requires individuals be given a choice
if the vaccine is not fully licensed.
Biden has also directed that all federal
workers be vaccinated or face frequent
testing and travel restrictions.
Lawyers say the waiver will put the
military on firmer legal ground so it
can avoid the court battles it faced
when it mandated the anthrax vaccine
for troops in the 1990s when it was not
fully approved by the federal Food and
The distrust among some service
members is not only a reflection of
the broader public’s feelings about
the COVID-19 vaccines, which were
quickly authorized for emergency use,
but stems in part from the anthrax
Scores of troops refused to take that
vaccine. Some left the service. Others
were disciplined. Some were court
martialed and kicked out of the military
with other-than-honorable discharges.
In 2003, a federal judge agreed with
service members who filed a lawsuit
asserting the military could not
administer a vaccine that had not been
fully licensed without their consent,
and stopped the program.
The Pentagon started it back up in 2004
after the FDA issued an approval, but
the judge stopped it again after ruling
the FDA had not followed procedures.
Eventually the FDA issued proper
approvals for the vaccine, and the
program was reinstated on a limited
basis for troops in high-risk locations.
Military experts say the legal battles
over the anthrax vaccine could be why
the Biden administration has been
treading cautiously. Until now, the
government has relied on encouraging
troops rather than mandating the shots.
Yet coronavirus cases in the military,
like elsewhere, have been rising with
the more contagious delta variant.
If the military makes the vaccine
mandatory, most service members will
have to get the shots unless they can
argue to be among the few given an
exemption for religious, health or other
According to the Pentagon, more than
1 million service members are fully
vaccinated, and more than 237,000
have gotten at least one shot. There are
roughly 2 million active-duty, Guard
and Reserve troops.
Many see the COVID-19 vaccine as
being necessary to avoid another major
outbreak like the one last year that
sidelined the USS Theodore Roosevelt
and resulted in more than 1,000
crewmember cases and one death.
An active-duty Army officer said he
would welcome the vaccine among the
military's mandatory shots. The soldier,
who asked not to be named because
he was not authorized to speak to the
media, said he worries unvaccinated
service members may be abusing
the honor system and going to work
without a mask.
He recently rode in a car with others
for work but didn't feel like he could
ask if everyone was vaccinated
because it's become such a political
topic. Commanders have struggled to
separate vaccinated and unvaccinated
recruits during early portions of basic
training across the services to prevent
Accommodating unvaccinated troops
would burden service members who
are vaccinated since it would limit who
is selected for deployment, according to
active-duty troops and veterans.
“The military travels to vulnerable
populations all over the world to be
able to best serve the U.S.," said former
Air Force Staff Sgt. Tes Sabine, who
works as a radiology technician in an
emergency room in New York state.
“We have to have healthy people in the
military to carry out missions, and if the
COVID-19 vaccine achieves that, that's
a very positive thing."
Dr. Shannon Stacy, who works at a
hospital in a Los Angeles suburb,
“As an emergency medicine physician
and former flight surgeon for a Marine
heavy helicopter squadron, I can attest
that COVID-19 has the potential to take
a fully trained unit from mission ready
to non-deployable status in a matter of
days," she said.
The biggest challenge will be scheduling
the shots around trainings, said Stacy,
who left the Navy in 2011 and did predeployment,
Army Col. Arnold Strong, who retired
from the military in 2017, said he
believes it's not anything the U.S.
military cannot overcome: Troops
working in the farthest corners of the
Earth have access to medical officers.
Given that most people sign up to
follow orders, he thinks this time will
be no different.
“I think the majority of service members
are going to line up and get vaccinated
as soon as it is a Department of Defense
policy," he said.
Strong has lost five friends to the virus,
three of whom were veterans.
His hope is that the military can set the
example for others to follow.
“I would hope if people see the military
step up and say, 'Yes, let's get shots in
arms,' it will set a standard for the rest
of country," he said. “But I don’t know
because I think we face such a strong
threat of disinformation being deployed