This article has little to do with the COVAX mandate debate itself, and everything to do with how our military failed its people. Again.
In discussing the circumstances surrounding the COVAX mandate as it pertains to the Department of Defense’s Inspector General (DoDIG), we first must highlight the agency’s roles and responsibilities. From the DoDIG website, below, its mission:
“…to provide a confidential, reliable means to report violations of law, rule, or regulation; fraud, waste, and abuse; mismanagement; trafficking in persons; serious security incidents; or other criminal or administrative misconduct that involve DoD personnel and operations, without fear of reprisal.”– Mission of the DoDIG
In short, if there is a rule broken, a military member should go to the Inspector General with a complaint. The IG’s role is then to investigate that claim.
It is important to distinguish here that the role of the IG is not to question, debate, or contend whether a law/rule/regulation is just. Those are to be addressed via other avenues, such as through one’s Representative. In this vein, I have seen the COVAX issue become convoluted, as some have felt that the DoDIG should have weighed in on the validity of COVAX policies. They should not have – that is not within their purview and for that, they should not be held accountable.
However, let us not mince words here: the DoDIG system completely fell on its proverbial face during the COVAX debacle of the last two years.
Time and time again, the IG system failed the thousands of members who sought exemptions to the mandate; religious, medical, or otherwise, and whose Services denied those requests. Those members then sought redress with the IG to which the Inspectors General could have responded in one of two ways: in the interest of the member, or the interest of the institution. In the vast majority of cases, if not almost every case, the IG opted for the latter: to respond in a way to the member which demonstrably showed, yet again, that today’s Inspector General system is nothing more than another arm of command abuses of authority, veiled by a thin veneer of objectivity, yet in reality, just the institution’s veritable puppet.
After thousands of Religious Accommodation Requests (RAR) were capriciously denied throughout the DoD, dozens of IG complaints were filed. The DoDIG performed an audit of those denials and found them to be in non-compliance with several laws and DoD regulations. Despite that, RARs continued to be arbitrarily denied for the next 9 months until the lifting of the mandate, thereby again showing the impotence of the IG system.
The COVAX mandate was, I believe, the final “outing” of the corrupt IG system, for the DoDIG was handed on a silver platter the opportunity to show its true allegiance to the individual and, more importantly, to the truth. Yet again, disappointingly but also not surprisingly, our DoDIG showed its true loyalties lied with the chain of command which consistently and unduly influences it. I am convinced that these events will prove to be the nail in the coffin for today’s IG system. I know the Walk The Talk Foundation will endeavor to ensure that comes to fruition.