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Ft. Rucker says Covid vax required in welcome letter despite military lifting mandate

A U.S. Army AH-64D Apache helicopter at Ech Stagefield, Fort Rucker, Ala., May 22, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Kosterman/Released)
February 09, 2023

After a U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE) welcome letter went out on Tuesday stating all students must be “fully vaccinated” or “have an approved religious or medical exemption” to attend a course, Fort Rucker told American Military News that the letter is inaccurate and a second letter is being sent out “to provide clarity.”

According to a welcome letter obtained by Terminal CWO, troops enrolled in an upcoming graduate flight course at Fort Rucker were told that they “must be fully vaccinated or have an approved religious or medical exemption in order to attend a course at Ft. Rucker.”

USAACE Director of Public Affairs LTC Andy Thaggard told American Military News in an email that the letter did not reflect current COVID-19 vaccine policy, which states that troops are no longer required to be fully vaccinated or have an exemption.

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“The U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence updated all COVID-related policies in accordance with Department of the Army and U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (our higher headquarters) orders. TRADOC published their guidance on Feb. 7, we published ours the next day,” Thaggard told American Military News.

“USAACE Army Training Requirements and Resources System (ATRRS) course information requirements are in the process of being updated,” Thaggard continued. “In addition, USAACE graduate course welcome letters that were sent out Feb. 8 are being resent to provide clarity.”

The Pentagon officially rescinded the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate last month, according to a Department of Defense memo signed by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

The memo stated that “no individuals currently serving in the Armed Forces shall be separated solely on the basis of their refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccination if they sought an accommodation on religious, administrative or medical grounds.” The military will also end all ongoing reviews of such requests, removing any adverse actions associated with denials.