Many should be thanked for their service in our communities, state and nation; therefore, this column is to honor some of them.
As we approach the beginning of the third year of COVID-19, we must look back in appreciation for those that have kept our clinics and hospitals available for us. Not only for the virus but for all the health issues that affect us. They did this despite the fear that they could catch or spread the virus to their own loved ones. They served us before there was a vaccine, in those early months amid news stories all around them of patients not surviving. They truly are to be admired for their service.
Advance forward to the present. Those that served us those many months are now being told that they will be fired if they don’t receive vaccine shots. Most have, some, however, for religious or medical reasons have refused. Some of those not receiving them have already had COVID-19. Sadly, those that have concerns are given no option other than leave their chosen profession. Incoming Governor Youngkin and incoming Attorney General Miyares are committed to try to reverse this federal government mandate.
Every day, our troopers, deputies and police are coming to work and doing their job in an ever-increasing dangerous world. Over the last two years in Virginia and in many other states, some legislators have ignored the risks that officers face as they work to protect our families and loved ones. They have passed laws in which it makes it that much harder for officers to do their job and receive the respect they deserve. Cities are now allowed to create citizen review boards that can second guess decisions that officers had to make in spilt-seconds. Those review boards have no knowledge of police procedures, yet they can end an officer’s career based on “feeling” rather than hard facts.
All across America, there are stories about the record number of murders, some targeting officers. There are stories about prosecuting attorneys that refuse to try those who prey on families and businesses. In some cities, the criminals are not even held for more than a few hours before they are back on the streets committing new crimes. All of this has left officers demoralized. Officers are retiring or changing careers at higher rates than replacements can be trained. This has left most departments with far fewer officers trying to provide the services that we, the citizens, have come to expect.
Mayors in many big cities have terminated or taken officers off the street who have refused to receive the vaccine. Just as with those in health care, they have served gallantly, risking COVID infection. These mayors now, even short-handed, are ignoring their heroism and are willing to push them out the door. The exact same thing is happening to fire personnel and lifesaving crews.
Many have been critical of what happened on Interstate 95 last week. I will not try to defend those in charge, but I think it is important to point out that VDOT has been hampered in all their work by the same shortage of personnel that every employer has faced this year. I do not know all the facets of the problems that occurred that kept drivers locked in place for many hours, but when VDOT, state troopers and wrecker services don’t have the people necessary, it is impossible for things to happen the way the public has come to expect.
After several years of honoring those who wear the uniform of our various military branches, 2020 was far different. Rather than allowing the military to do the job for which they were trained, many times this last year they have been put in harm’s way with no sense of reason. In a rush to get out of Afghanistan by an arbitrary date, we gave up strategic positioning that cost the lives of thirteen of our finest and an untold number of allies and their families. They too are at risk of losing their careers because of vaccination requirements.
Thanks to all that are doing the right thing by serving others.