Pentagon reverses policy on the COVID-19 ban for recruits


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The early May 2020 version of the Pentagons COVID-19 policy for military recruits policy sent shockwaves across the country.

A Pentagon memo surfaced saying all recovered COVID-19 patients would be ineligible to join the military.

Senator Tim Kaine, who has tested positive for the COVID- 19 antibody, has raised concerns about stigmatizing potential recruits.

“The military does accept people who have had other viruses and have recovered,” said Kaine.

Pentagon reversed course a few days later and said only recruits who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 would be banned.

The revised policy sought to address concerns about recruits who have suffered organ or other damage due to the virus.

By mid-may, the policy had changed again. A defense undersecretary told anyone who has recovered will be examined by a physician to determine if there are long term effects.
With so many unknowns, Senator Kaine says the military may have turned away those it needs the most–recruits who have antibodies in a world with no vaccine.

“If you were previously positive and you have the antibodies you may have immunity others may not have you make be exactly the person who could come in,” said Kaine.

Former Navy Captain Jospeh Bouchard says the back and forth created confusion that can be exploited.

“As of right now it’s not clear exactly what the policy is,” said Bouchard.

He says ultimately DOD will adjust its policy based on whether it’s able to meet recruiting goals and version three is a move in the right direction.

“A policy that would have military doctors perform a thorough screening on an individual rather than blanket barring anyone who tested positive from serving is undoubtedly a better approach.”

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