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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

Missouri’s Fort Leonard Wood is beating the rest of the Army in COVID vaccinations

Col. Aaron Pitney, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital commander, receives the COVID-19 vaccination in January. All active duty personnel in the Army are required to get the shot by December 15.
Col. Aaron Pitney, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital commander, receives the COVID-19 vaccination in January. All active duty personnel in the Army are required to get the shot by December 15.

All active-duty members of the Army must be vaccinated by mid-December, but leaders at Fort Leonard Wood say they are confident they will be in compliance before that deadline.

As of last week, the Department of Defense said, 72% of the Army's total force had been fully vaccinated. Col. Aaron Bohrer, chief of operations and director of training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri’s Ozarks, would not give a specific number of vaccinations at his post.

“We are actually above the Army in general, where they are at in terms of their percentages. I fully expect I’ll have status for either exemptions or everybody vaccinated by the Dec. 15 deadline,” Bohrer said.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued an order in August that requires all service members to get the vaccine.

“Mandatory vaccinations are familiar to all of our service members, and mission-critical inoculation is almost as old as the U.S. military itself,” Austin wrote in his memo outlining the order. “Our administration of safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines has produced admirable results to date.”

Soldiers who refuse to be vaccinated can seek religious or medical exemptions, which are issued by the Army. If they don’t receive an exemption and still turn down the shot, they will face disciplinary action.

Bohrer said soldiers not in compliance will be written up for not obeying an order. The final outcome could go all the way to a discharge from the service.

“But we’re not there yet. We’re not separating anybody. We are just capturing that they have refused to follow a lawful order and making sure that gets captured properly with that General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand,” Bohrer said.

Borer would not give a specific number but said fewer than 2% of the active-duty personnel at Fort Leonard Wood have turned down the vaccine, and most of those are in the process of seeking exemptions.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

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Jonathan is the General Manager of Tri States Public radio. His duties include but are not limited to, managing all facets of the station, from programming to finances to operations. Jonathan grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago. He has a B.A in music theory and composition from WIU and a M.A in Public Affairs Reporting from The University of Illinois at Springfield. Jonathan began his journey in radio as a student worker at WIUM. While in school Jonathan needed a summer job on campus. He heard WIUM was hiring, and put his bid in. Jonathan was welcomed on the team and was very excited to be using his music degree. He had also always been interested in news and public radio. He soon learned he was a much better reporter than a musician and his career was born. While at WIUM, Jonathan hosted classical music, completed operations and production work, was a news reporter and anchor, and served as the stage manager for Rural Route 3. Jonathan then went to on to WIUS in Springfield where he was a news anchor and reporter covering the state legislature for Illinois Public Radio. After a brief stint in commercial radio and TV, Jonathan joined WCBU in Peoria, first in operations then as a news reporter and for the last ten years of his time there he served as the News Director. Jonathan’s last job before returning to Tri States Public Radio was as the News Director/ Co-Director of Content for Iowa Public Radio. During Jonathan’s off time he enjoys distance running, playing competitive Scrabble, rooting for Chicago Cubs, listening to all kinds of music and reading as much as he can. He lives in Macomb with his wife Anita and children Tommy and Lily.