December 2021 — MHCE Newsletter

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Vet Raises

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Monthly Newsletter


Omicron Spreading

Rapidly in U.S., Could

Bring Punishing Wave of

Infections , CDC Warns

Top federal health officials warned in a briefing

Tuesday morning that the omicron variant is

rapidly spreading in the United States and could

peak in a massive wave of infections as soon as

January, according to new modeling from the

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The prevalence of omicron jumped sevenfold

in a single week, CDC modeling shows, and

at such a pace, the highly mutated variant of

the coronavirus could ratchet up pressure on a

health system already strained in many places as

the delta variant continues its own late-autumn


The briefing detailed two scenarios for how the

omicron variant, first identified in South Africa

three weeks ago, may spread through this country.

The worst case scenario has spooked top health

officials, who fear a fresh wave, layered on top of

delta and influenza cases in what one described

as “a triple whammy,” could overwhelm health

systems and devastate communities, particularly

those with low vaccination rates.

“I’m a lot more alarmed. I’m worried,” said

Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer for the

Association of State and Territorial Health

officials, who participated in the call. The CDC,

normally cautious in its messaging, told the

public health officials that “we got to get people

ready for this,” he said.

He noted that the omicron surge, if it materializes

as forecast, would be taking place as delta

continues its onslaught and during the time of

year when influenza cases often peak.

Officials stress that early data shows individuals

who are fully vaccinated and received a booster

shot remain largely protected against severe

illness and death from omicron. But they worry

about how few Americans have been boosted to

date. Over 54 million people in the United States

have gotten the additional shots, out of 200

million who are “fully vaccinated,” according to

the CDC.

The newest modeling scenarios have been

shared among senior administration officials, as

they discuss politically fraught decisions about

how, when and whether to take new steps to

suppress the virus and keep hospitals from being


The second scenario outlines a smaller omicron

surge in the spring. It’s unclear which scenario

is more likely.

“They’re considering the information at the

highest levels right now, and thinking through

how to get the public to understand what the

scenarios mean,” said one federal health official

familiar with the briefing. “It looks daunting.”

“The implications of a big wave in January that

could swamp hospitals . . . we need to take that

potential seriously,” said the official, who spoke

on the condition of anonymity because they were

not authorized to discuss policy deliberations.

The CDC’s internal modeling is consistent with

that of several academic groups in the United

States and with data from the United Kingdom,

Denmark and Norway. New restrictions have

already been imposed in the United Kingdom and

other countries in Europe that were seeded with

omicron earlier.

The Biden administration’s strategy relies

heavily on vaccination, including boosters and

testing. When President Joe Biden announced his

“action plan” on Dec. 2 for fighting the virus this

winter, he noted “it doesn’t include shutdowns

or lockdowns but widespread vaccinations and

boosters and testing and a lot more.”

A reformulated vaccine that’s omicron-specific

is not currently planned as part of the toolbox.

Senior administration health officials and

vaccine experts at vaccine companies said there

is no evidence such a major switch in the vaccine

design is necessary.

They cited the data that suggests the original

vaccine, coupled with a booster shot, provides

protection against severe illness caused by

omicron. So far, they noted, the vaccines have

successfully countered every variant. That view

could change in the next two weeks as more

data comes in involving laboratory tests and the

spread of omicron.

Switching the vaccine has sweeping implications.

If it is changed too early, that limits the ability

to deal with another variant down the road - one

that might potentially be more dangerous than


“We have to be careful not to repeat mistakes of

the past,” said one administration official who

spoke on the condition of anonymity because

he was not authorized to talk about the issue.

“If there is a change needed, we want to make

it, but we don’t want to end up making a change

if we don’t really need it. It costs time, money

and effort.”

Experts say that it’s impossible to keep changing

the vaccines or giving different boosters because

there is not enough manufacturing capacity and

other resources.

Anthony S. Fauci, Biden’s chief medical

adviser on the coronavirus response, said in an

interview Monday “there isn’t any compelling

reason right now to drop everything and make

an omicron-specific vaccine, as opposed to

continue to administer vaccine for people who

are unvaccinated and boosting people who are


Speaking Tuesday in an interview on NBC’s

“Today” Show, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky

said of omicron, “It is more transmissible, and

we’re seeing that in other countries as well, that

it’s rapidly becoming the more predominant

strain, but I want to emphasize that we have the

tools now.”

Between Dec. 4 and Dec. 11, omicron likely

jumped from a mere 0.4 percent of new infections

in the U.S. to 2.9 percent, according to the new

CDC data. In New York and New Jersey, omicron

already accounts for 13 percent of new cases,

Walensky said.

In the Houston Methodist hospital system,

omicron accounted for 13 percent of new cases in

a four-day period leading up to Dec. 8, according

to James Musser, chair of pathology and genomic

medicine. He expects that percentage to approach

20 percent when new numbers are published

Wednesday. The omicron variant was first

detected in Houston on Nov. 29.

Musser said his hospital system is ready for

whatever comes next: “We’ve had 21 months

of this now, and we’re sort of - I hate to say it,

because it’s tragic - but we’re sort of skilled in the

art of how to handle this.”

Though the delta variant remains dominant in

the United States, and is the driver of the recent

surge in hospitalizations, particularly in the

Upper Midwest and Mountain West, omicron

continues to show signs that it is dramatically

more transmissible. Importantly, it has dozens

of mutations that make it a more slippery foe

when encountered by neutralizing antibodies, the

immune system’s first line of defense.

That was reinforced Tuesday with the release

of a large study from researchers in South

Africa, the country that first warned the world

of the emergence of the new variant in late

November. The new study confirms that vaccines

are significantly less effective at preventing

infections with omicron, but still usually prevent

severe disease.

The study also found that the people infected

with omicron so far have had a 29 percent lower

chance of being hospitalized than people infected

with delta.

Infectious-disease experts caution that what

happens in South Africa, which has a relatively

young population, may not be repeated in northern

hemisphere countries with older populations.

The CDC modelers also based their forecasts in

part on data coming out of Denmark, Norway and

the United Kingdom, Plescia said. Looking at the

Norway data, the modelers said Norway cases

could reach 300,000 quickly, “and there’s not that

many people in Norway,” he added.

Public health officials think there is adequate

supply of personal protective equipment in the

United States to protect against another wave.

But the country is not ready with sufficient

testing capability, Plescia said. States will need

to work with their hospital systems to get them

ready to expand capacity, he said.

“The hope is that it is going to be less severe,

but the concern is that the numbers could be so

great, even if proportionally less people have to

be hospitalized, the numbers are much higher

and a lot of people are going to be really sick and

overwhelm things,” Plescia said.

The messaging to the public will be even more

difficult. Two things that would help enormously -

less travel during Christmas, and more consistent

wearing of masks - are not likely to happen,

because people are so tired of the pandemic and

have tuned out many public health messages, he


2 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us DECEMBER 2021 EDITION

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Focus on Oversight a Key for Success at


In the corrections industry, maintaining high standards of

operation is imperative to meeting the needs of the individuals

in our care. That's why CoreCivic adheres to a stringent set of

guidelines set forth by our own standards, as well as those of our

government partners and the American Correctional Association


Founded in 1870, the ACA is considered the national benchmark

for the effective operation of correctional systems throughout

the United States. To become accredited, a facility must achieve

compliance with ACA mandatory standards and a minimum of

90 percent non-mandatory standards. CoreCivic facilities adhere

to ACA standards, and in 2020, CoreCivic earned an average

ACA audit score of 99.6 percent across all facilities.

Key ACA audit areas include facility personnel, resident reentry

programs, resident safety, health care, and more.

holds our facilities and staff to a high standard. To be able to

represent our facility and receive reaccreditation in person is an


Adhering to ACA standards is only one part of CoreCivic's

commitment to robust oversight. When government partners

utilize CoreCivic's services, we are held not only to our own

high standards and those of the ACA, but we are often held to

the same or higher accountability of our public counterparts

through stringent government contracts, unfettered access to

our facilities for our partners, and hundreds of on-site quality

assurance monitors.

We provide access to our government partners, with most of

our facilities having government agency employees known as

contract monitors who are physically on-site to ensure we are

operating in line with partner guidelines.

Recently, the ACA held in Nashville, Tennessee, its 151st

Congress of Corrections, an annual convention that brings

together corrections professionals from across the country. In

addition to various workshops and events at the convention, the

ACA Commission on Accreditation also held panel hearings to

award accreditation to correctional facilities that meet the ACA's

rigorous requirements. Listed below are the seven CoreCivic

facilities that earned reaccreditation this year, with mandatory/

non-mandatory scores:

• Bent County Correctional Facility - 100/99.0

• Citrus County Detention Facility - 100/100

• Eloy Detention Center - 100/100

• Lake Erie Correctional Institution - 100/99.3

• Saguaro Correctional Center - 100/99.8

• Stewart Detention Center - 100/100

• Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility - 100/100

"The accreditation process is very important," said Warden

Fred Figueroa from Eloy Detention Center, one of the seven

CoreCivic facilities that was awarded reaccreditation. "ACA

To maintain our own high standards, annual on-site audits covering

all operational areas are administered to ensure compliance with

contractual and regulatory obligations and corporate-mandated

requirements. Each CoreCivic Safety facility is audited by our

internal quality assurance division, which is independent from

our operations division. Facilities are expected to be audit-ready

year-round, maintaining continuous compliance with numerous

applicable standards.

CoreCivic employs 75 staff members dedicated to quality

assurance, including several subject matter experts with extensive

experience from all major disciplines within our institutional


"A lot of hard work goes into preparing for these audits,"

Figueroa said. "Once they're complete, the staff can see their

accomplishments and feel proud."

Having multiple levels of oversight helps CoreCivic maintain

a safe environment for those in our care. By holding ourselves

accountable to our own high standards, along with our

government partners' and ACA's standards, CoreCivic continues

to be a trusted partner working to better the public good.

6 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us DECEMBER 2021 EDITION

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8 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us DECEMBER 2021 EDITION

By the end of the day Monday, time slots for all of the

approximately 600 sessions were gone, according to an online

appointment site.

For the four vaccination clinics scheduled at Ramstein in

January, only one time slot on Jan. 7 was still available as of

Tuesday morning.

Ramstein medics have administered about 2,200 booster

vaccines, both Moderna and Pfizer, base spokesman Lt. Col.

Will Powell said in a statement Monday.

US military booster

shot drive in Europe

goes into overdrive

amid COVID-19 surge

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany The slow rollout of

COVID-19 vaccine boosters to the U.S. military community in

Europe has given way to ramped-up efforts to get the additional

jab to everyone who’s eligible as quickly as possible.

And in many locations, appointments are being scooped up as

soon as they become available.

In the past week alone, the Army nearly doubled the number of

booster shots administered at its base clinics on the Continent,

Gino Mattorano, a spokesman for Regional Health Command

Europe, said Tuesday.

At the end of November, the Army had vaccinated about 4,100

individuals with a booster, less than 5% of the estimated 100,000

people at Army bases in Europe eligible for vaccinations.

Mattorano estimated that the total now stands at about 25,000.

Initially, the Army had intended to expand its booster campaign

after the holidays while it focused on administering the pediatric

vaccine, which was recently approved for children 5 to 11.

But with Germany and other European countries that host

American troops experiencing a record surge in cases and high

demand for the booster, the Army reversed course and opened

more appointments.

The Army’s last vaccination clinics before the holidays will be

Monday, Mattorano said.

Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the Army’s largest overseas

hospital, has administered about 11,000 boosters and started

partnering with the 21st Theater Sustainment Command and

the 30th Medical Brigade to add booster vaccine appointments,

Mattorano said.

On Monday, Ramstein Air Base opened more booster

appointments Friday for its last scheduled vaccination clinic

before the holidays.

“The process remains fluid,” he said. “As cancellations occur,

appointments open up.”

Most bases are using the Defense Health Agency’s online

portal for appointments. It allows people to make more than

one appointment for the same shot. Military officials said it’s

important for users to cancel previous appointments and not


However, there is no penalty for neglecting to cancel previous

appointments, and it is permissible to make multiple appointments

simultaneously to accommodate other family members.

In some German states, including Rheinland-Pfalz, home to

tens of thousands of U.S. personnel, a booster shot negates

vaccinated individuals’ testing requirement for indoor dining

and other activities.

Germany’s new government is looking at applying that

exemption across the nation to encourage more booster shots

and relieve testing capacity.

Booster shots for people ages 16 and 17 are still hard to get,

depending on location. The Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently

approved boosters for older teens.

LRMC was showing available booster appointments for ages

16 and up for Jan. 6. Other Army bases were also offering the

booster to older teens, Mattorano said.

Ramstein officials said Monday that they are awaiting official

guidance from the Air Force on when to begin offering the

booster to 16- and 17-year-olds.

At Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, health officials “are

exploring options” for making booster shots available to 16- and

17-year-olds, 1st Lt. Megan Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the

52nd Fighter Wing, said in a statement Tuesday.

U.S. Navy officials did not respond by deadline about their

efforts to provide booster shots to their personnel in Europe.


contact Susan.Keller@mhce.us

WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 9

Cmdr. Lucian Kins was relieved of his duties Friday as second in

command of the USS Winston Churchill, a destroyer, by Navy

Capt. Ken Anderson, commander of Naval Surface Squadron

14. Officials said Kins was the first naval officer to be fired as a

result of a vaccine refusal.

Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Jason Fischer declined to give

the precise reason why Kins was relieved of command, citing

privacy concerns. Fischer, who is spokesman for the Naval

Surface Force Atlantic, said the reason for the firing was that

Anderson lost confidence in Kins' ability to perform his duties

after he failed to obey a lawful order.

Other officials, however, said it was because Kins refused the

order to get the vaccine, and refused testing to ensure he did not

have the virus.

Navy Commander

Fired After Refusing to

Get COVID Vaccine

WASHINGTON (AP) A Navy commander has been fired

from his job as the executive officer of a warship because he

refused to get a COVID-19 vaccine as required and refused to

be tested for the virus, Navy officials said Friday.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss

personnel issues. One official said Kins has requested a religious

exemption, which was denied. Kins is appealing that denial.

The Pentagon has made the vaccine mandatory for all service

members, and Navy personnel had until late November to

get their shots or request exemptions. Thousands of service

members have asked for religious exemptions, but so far none

of the military services have approved one.

Fischer said Kins has been reassigned to the staff of Naval

Surface Squadron 14.

Lt. Cmdr. Han Yi, the ship's plans and tactics officer, is

temporarily serving as the Churchill's executive officer until a

permanent replacement is identified.

10 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us DECEMBER 2021 EDITION

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contact Susan.Keller@mhce.us



12 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us DECEMBER 2021 EDITION


contact Susan.Keller@mhce.us

WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 13

Biden taps NCAA

executive Donald

Remy for No. 2 spot at



WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden intends to nominate a leader

of the NCAA for the No. 2 position in the Department of Veterans

Affairs, the White House announced Friday.

Biden will nominate Donald Remy as deputy secretary for the

department. Remy is a former captain in the U.S. Army, and he works

as the chief operating officer and chief legal officer of the National

Collegiate Athletic Association. The White House touted his problem

solving and crisis management abilities.

“Harnessing his strengths … Remy has been instrumental over the

years in improving critical risk, [and] operational, financial and legal

strategies,” a statement from the White House reads. “[He] recently

has been a key leader during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping the

organization and its membership traverse a myriad of challenges.”

Remy’s nomination must be confirmed by the Senate. If confirmed,

he would be the first permanent deputy secretary in over a year. The

previous deputy secretary, James Byrne, was fired by former VA

Secretary Robert Wilkie in February 2020. Carolyn Clancy has held

the position in an interim role since Biden took office.

Biden has not yet named his nominees for two other high-level

positions at the VA: the undersecretary for health and undersecretary

for benefits.

Before working for the NCAA, Remy was a partner at the law firm

Lathan & Watkins, and he also served as deputy assistant attorney

general for the Department of Justice. During his military career,

Remy worked as assistant to the general counsel for the Army. He

also served as a law clerk in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Remy graduated from Louisiana State University and Howard

University law school.

14 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us DECEMBER 2021 EDITION

For the first time in U.S. history, a woman took charge of the U.S. and its

military on Friday, but it lasted only briefly.

President Joe Biden transferred his executive powers to Vice President

Kamala Harris while he went under anesthesia for a routine colonoscopy

at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland, according to

the White House.

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WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 15




from the MHCE family to yours.


16 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us DECEMBER 2021 EDITION

National Guard Helping Virus-Sapped States,


More U.S. states desperate to defend against COVID-19 are

calling on the National Guard and other military personnel to

assist virus-weary medical staffs at hospitals and other care


People who became sick after refusing to get vaccinated are

overwhelming hospitals in certain states, especially in the

Northeast and the Upper Midwest. New York, meanwhile,

announced a statewide indoor mask order, effective Monday

and lasting five weeks through the holiday season.

We're entering a time of uncertainty, and we could either plateau

here or our cases could get out of control," Gov. Kathy Hochul

warned Friday.

The New York National Guard said it had deployed 120 Army

medics and Air Force medical technicians to 12 nursing homes

and long-term care facilities to relieve fatigued staff.

Dr. Paolo Marciano, chief medical officer at Beaumont Hospital

in Dearborn, Michigan, said it was a "tremendous lifeline" to

get assistance from the Defense Department, which has more

than 60 nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists assigned to the


"It allowed us to be able to care for the COVID patients and at

the same time still maintain the level of care that cancer patients

require or people with chronic illnesses," Marciano said. "Where

we are today is really just keeping our heads above water."

In Michigan, health director Elizabeth Hertel was equally blunt:

"I want to be absolutely clear: You are risking serious illness,

hospitalization and even death" without a vaccination.

The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the U.S.

rose over the past two weeks to 117,677 by Thursday, compared

to 84,756 on Nov. 25, Thanksgiving Day, according to Johns

Hopkins University. The number of people hospitalized with

COVID-19 has soared to about 54,000 on average, according to

the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, the country is approaching a new milestone of

800,000 COVID-19 deaths. More than 200 million Americans,

or about 60% of the population, are now fully vaccinated.

In Maine, which hit a pandemic high this week with nearly 400

COVID-19 patients in hospitals, as many as 75 members of the

National Guard were being summoned to try to keep people out

of critical care with monoclonal antibodies and to perform other

non-clinical tasks.

Maine has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the

country -- 73% -- but that rate lags in many of the state's rural


New York's mask order covers all indoor public places unless a

business or venue has a vaccine requirement. The state reported

more than 68,000 positive tests for the virus in a seven-day

period that ended Wednesday, the most for any seven-day stretch

since February.

New York City and several upstate New York counties already

have mask mandates. Critics, however, said the governor's

announcement was another burden for businesses.

"Government overreach at its worst," said Republican

Assemblyman Mike Lawler.

Michigan is sending more ventilators to hospitals and asking

for even more from the national stockpile. Infection rates and

hospitalizations are at record levels, 21 months into the pandemic.

The first case of the omicron variant was confirmed Thursday in

the Grand Rapids area.

The largest hospital system in Indiana enlisted National Guard

for support this week at a time when the number of COVID-19

patients in the state has more than doubled in the past month. The

state's COVID-19 hospitalizations are now higher than Indiana's

summer surge that peaked in September and are approaching the

pandemic peak reached in late 2020.

WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 17

The US Just Ended

Combat in Iraq, but

Thousands of Troops

Will Stay Put for Now

The U.S. military ended its combat operations in Iraq this week

under terms from an earlier agreement, though thousands of

troops will remain in the country for now, the Pentagon said


About 2,500 service members are in Iraq after months of

winding down the mission against the Islamic State group; they

will continue advising and training Iraqi security forces after the

transition was completed this week. The change was finalized

at the conclusion of technical talks between the two countries


of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said

in a released statement, referring to ISIS with the term used by


ISIS "is down, but not out," Brennan said in the statement.

It is the second time in a decade that the U.S. has pulled back

forces amid an apparent calming in Iraq. In 2011, President

Barack Obama announced an end to the earlier Iraq War launched

in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein, only to re-enter the country

three years later to fight the burgeoning terrorist group.

The main threat now to U.S. troops remaining in the country is

Shia militia groups backed by Iran. The groups are blamed for

drone and rocket attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria.

"We have to assume threats to U.S. forces remain credible in

Iraq," Kirby said.

The move marks a de-escalation of the U.S.-led coalition's war

against the Islamic State, or ISIS, that began in 2014 as the

terrorist group swept through Iraq, staged public executions, and

sponsored attacks around the world.

This is the natural evolution," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby

said, but will not result in any immediate change to the laydown

and number of U.S. forces there.

The U.S.-Iraq agreement to pull all combat troops from the

country by the end of this year was hammered out in July.

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the

military defeat of ISIS in 2017, after all territory such as the city

of Mosul was reclaimed and the border with Syria was secured.

But an insurgency waged by the group continued.



The terrorist group has been dramatically reduced to underground

networks with no territory, but it once claimed 40,000 soldiers

and controlled 110,000 square kilometers, according to the U.S.-

led coalition.

"Many brave men and women gave their lives to ensure Daesh

never returns, and as we complete our combat role, we will remain

here to advise, assist, and enable the ISF, at the invitation of the

Republic of Iraq," Maj. Gen. John W. Brennan Jr., commander

18 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us DECEMBER 2021 EDITION

Business Is Global. Your Education Can Be, Too.

Complete Business Minor in One

Summer across Two Countries

By taking the five courses offered in this 12-week program, you

can complete a Business Minor and enjoy the unique opportunity

to immerse yourself in a cultural experience. Our Complete

Business Minor Abroad program will take you to the beautiful

streets of Rome, Italy, and Madrid, Spain, this Summer 2022


Business Core Fast Track

By taking the five courses offered in this 12-week program, you

can complete a Business Minor and enjoy the unique opportunity

to immerse yourself in a cultural experience. Our Complete

Business Minor Abroad program will take you to the beautiful

streets of Rome, Italy, and Madrid, Spain, this Summer 2022


2022 Program Update

In these uncertain times, the Harbert College of Business is

taking extraordinary steps to ensure the health and welfare of its

students. As such, only two study abroad trips will be offered for

this summer.

Please be on the lookout for details on offerings of a range of

Study Abroad Programs in Summer 2023. We appreciate your

interest and will be global again as soon as possible.

Study Abroad

At the Harbert College of Business, we offer the opportunity to

experience different business cultures, practices and standards

around the world. Round out your undergraduate experience with

a study abroad trip to Italy and Spain and gain a global business


Undergraduate study abroad opportunities will allow you to gain

experience with a variety of contexts.

Have Questions?

COVID-19 has made the idea of international travel seem far

away. Let us reassure you we will provide a safe study abroad

experience that will give you an edge in your future career

Dr. Daniel Butler

Assistant Dean, Harbert Global Programs

Thomas Walter Professor



WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 19

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becomes the business of medicine.

You spent years studying medicine.

But what about the business side of

your practice?

It’s easy to get started.

Take the next step toward a

Physicians Executive MBA

and contact us:



Auburn MBA

20 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us DECEMBER 2021 EDITION

Oklahoma Guard

Leader Tells

Vaccine Refusers

to Prepare for

'Career Ending

Federal Action'

The leadership of the Oklahoma National

Guardhas acknowledged that its fight with

the federal government over the COVID-19

vaccine mandate ultimately may lead to

"career ending federal action" for troops.

Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, the top officer

for Oklahoma's Guard, released a statement

Thursday that opened with a forceful

defense of service members under his charge

exercising their "personal responsibility" and

"the right to not take the vaccine."

However, the message quickly pivoted as

Mancino began to note that his and Republican

Gov. Kevin Stitt's authority is limited.

"Anyone exercising their personal

responsibility and deciding not to take the

vaccine must realize that the potential for

career ending federal action, baring [sic] a

favorable court ruling, legislative intervention,

or a change in policy is present," Mancino

wrote in the statement.

State National Guard formations are unique in

the military in that they have dual obligations:

to both the state and federal government. When

under their governor's authority, the Guard is

said to be operating under Title 32. However,

when deployed by the federal government,

they operate under so-called Title 10 orders

and are commanded by the president.

"The Governor has used his authority under

Title 32 to grant you a limited safe harbor

within his authority to not be subject to Title

10 negative actions for not taking the vaccine,"

Mancino explained.

This distinction -- whom an individual Guard

member ultimately takes orders from and

when -- has been the crux of the fight between

Oklahoma and the Pentagon. That fight now

includes a lawsuit launched by Stitt and threats

from the Pentagon to withhold pay.

In one of the last paragraphs of his message,

Mancino noted that he is "fully vaccinated,

plus the booster."

"I believe the vaccine to be safe and effective

against COVID-19 based on the millions of

doses administered," he wrote.

In his message, Mancino admitted that,

ultimately, "continued service in the national

guard will require connections with Title 10


"Such connections including training events,

schools, and mobilizations are going to

eventually force you out of that safe harbor,

and subject you to title 10 authorities. This is

reality," his statement said.

Increasing politicization of the National

Guardmeans that Oklahoma Guardsmen

aren't the only troops stuck between state and

federal posturing. A spokesperson for Stitt

told Military.com last week that at least five

other Republican governors are considering

similar moves.

While Stitt and other governors may be eager

to test the limits of their authority against

the Pentagon and the rest of the federal

government, Mancino's message makes it

clear the struggle could have consequences

for Guard members.

"It is important you do not mistake my

vigorous defense of the Governor's rights

under Title 32 as a guarantee you will not

face consequences from Title 10 authority,"

Mancino wrote. "I have no such power."

WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 21

22 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us DECEMBER 2021 EDITION

After Years of

Delays, Congress

Prepares 2-Year

Deadline for

Pentagon to

Finish Testing

for ‘Forever


Frustrated by the Defense Department's

pace of identifying installations

contaminated with chemicals used in

firefighting foam as well as industrial and

commercial products, Congress plans to

order the Pentagon to complete the task

in two years.

The fiscal 2022 National Defense

Authorization Act, approved by the

House on Tuesday and expected to pass

the Senate next week, requires the DoD

to complete preliminary assessments

and site testing at all bases and National

Guardfacilities by the end of 2023

The deadline is needed, legislators

say, because the timeline and lack of

transparency by the Defense Department

has left communities wondering whether

their water and the ground they occupy

are contaminated with perfluoroalkyl and

polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively

known as PFAS.

"I'm outraged every time I hear the stories

from the service members in my state

who unknowingly raised their families

near PFAS-contaminated bases and had

no idea of the danger," Sen. Alex Padilla,

D-Calif., said during a hearing Thursday.

The Pentagon's inspector general released

a report in July saying that the DoD

waited five years to reduce the use of

PFAS-containing aqueous film forming

foam used for firefighting in training and

emergencies, even though its Emerging

Chemicals Program issued an alert in

2011 describing PFAS as a concern.

The delay possibly exposed "people and

the environment" to preventable risks, the

DoD IG concluded.

As the result of a bureaucratic loophole,

the DoD was not required to take action

to address the risks highlighted in the alert

until 2016, allowing years to pass while

troops continued to be exposed.

The delay -- and a subsequent focus on

firefighting foams while largely ignoring

other sources -- continued to expose

service members and their families to the

dangerous substances, the report found.

Concern has grown in the past decade over

PFAS, which have been linked to cancer

and birth defects, although research

remains insufficient to understand the

full impact of the chemicals on people.

They are known as "forever chemicals"

because they do not break down in the

environment and can build up in the

human body.

The compounds are used not only

in firefighting foam but in industrial

lubricants, non-stick cookware, cosmetics,

stain repellents and food wrappers.

The 2020 defense policy bill required

the Defense Department to test the blood

of military and civilian installation

firefighters for PFAS.

The DoD's work, according to Laura

Macaluso, DoD's acting deputy assistant

secretary for force safety and occupational

health, will help expand the body of

scientific knowledge on these substances

and lead to advances in care, if needed.

"We are hopeful that there will be evidence

connecting particular blood levels of one

or more PFAS to specific adverse health

effects in the next two years, and that

we could expedite this trend analysis,"

Macaluso said.

Firefighting foams containing PFAS have

been used on military installations since

the early 1970s, with thousands of people

exposed during training and emergencies

and an unknown number possibly exposed

as the result of runoff.

WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 23

As of Thursday, the DoD had identified

699 active or former military bases and

National Guard facilities where two of

the chemicals, perfluorooctane sulfonate

(PFOS) or perfluorooctanoic acid

(PFOA), may have been used or released

into the environment.

During the Thursday hearing, Richard

Kidd, the DoD's deputy assistant secretary

for environment and energy resilience,

said 190 of those installations have been

assessed, with 115 needing further review

and possibly remediation.

The other 75 showed no record of any use

of firefighting foam, and "the investigation

process has essentially stopped" for those

facilities, Kidd said.

He added that the Pentagon had planned

to complete the identification and testing

process of all installations by the end of


The Pentagon has banned the use of PFAScontaining

foams for training on military

installations, although the product is still

used on installations during emergencies

and aboard ships.

The DoD has faced challenges finding

an effective PFAS-free firefighting foam,

since none is commercially available

that meets its standards, according to the


The department is currently funding

research to develop a replacement.


contact Susan.Keller@mhce.us

24 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us DECEMBER 2021 EDITION



from the MHCE family to yours.



WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 25

"We're unable to run this program

unless we get community support

through donations, fundraisers,

etc., so we're very thankful for this

opportunity," said Healing Paws

for Warriors co-founder Sheila


"Geoff is an example of a

veteran giving back, pulling the

community together and making a

difference," Hale said.

Florida Veteran Runs 26.2 Miles, Bikes

100 Miles and Raises $12,000 for Vets in

One Day

DESTIN, Fla. (Tribune News

Service) For the second year in

a row, Destin resident and Army

veteran Geoff Speyrer completed

a grueling 24-hour physical

challenge to raise awareness

and money for veteran suicide


him with helping make the event

a success.

"This wasn't a me thing," said

Speyrer. "This isn't about me; we

had people coming in from the

Midwest, the East Coast, the West


Collectively, all those efforts so

far have raised about $12,000 for

Healing Paws for Warriors, a local

veteran-founded nonprofit that

provides trained service dogs to

veterans who are faced with posttraumatic

stress, traumatic brain

injury or military sexual trauma.

Despite battling winds that added

about three hours to the bicycle

ride, Speyrer said he was happy

with how this year's challenge

went and plans to make next year's

even bigger.

"This is just the beginning," he

said. "It's just going to get bigger

and bigger."

Want to contribute? The fundraiser

for Healing Paws for Warriors will

continue through the end of the

month. Visit the Facebook page

Geoff's SET 22 fundraiser for

Healing Paws for Warriors Inc.

The event is called SET 22, with

the SET standing for strength,

endurance, and training. Speyrer

said the 22 refers to the number of

veterans who take their lives every


Creating a Culture

Beginning at midnight Friday,

Speyrer and fellow cyclists Sean

Kamm and Kathleen Carrier made

four loops by bike around Destin

and Scenic Highway 98 for a total

of 100 miles. About noon Saturday,

he started off on foot with about a

dozen other runners to make one

more loop around Destin, racking

up a 26.2-mile marathon.

To cap off his day, Speyrer

then took to the track at Destin

Elementary School about 9 p.m.,

where he was joined by 25 to 30

people who cheered him on in the

dark as he flipped a 200-pound

tractor tire around the track

for total of 1 mile. He finished

the challenge about 10:45 p.m.


"People ask, 'Why do you put

yourself through this,' " said

Speyrer. "I know what it's like to

feel like there's no hope. It's all

about giving back hope to these

men and women who suffered."

of Caring

Offering master’s

and doctoral

degrees for

Registered Nurses

Specialties Offered:


Family Nurse Practitioner

Women’s Health Care NP

Psychiatric-Mental Health NP

Speyrer credits sponsors,

supporters, fellow athletes from

the 1st Phorm community and

runners from the Crop Dusters and

Destin running groups who joined

Learn more at frontier.edu/military

26 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us DECEMBER 2021 EDITION






from the MHCE family to yours.


WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 27


contact Kyle.Stephens@mhce.us

28 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us DECEMBER 2021 EDITION

College of Nursing

Visit www.southalabama.edu/colleges/con


5721 USA Drive North, Mobile, AL 36688

High Quality


Available Online

and on Campus

On Campus:

• Pre-Licensure BSN

• Accelerated BSN

Online OptiOns Offered:

• RN to BSN

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• Post Graduate Certificates

areas Of speCializatiOn:

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(multiple tracks)

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• Cardiovascular

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• Nursing Education

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