After 22 years of service in the U.S. Navy, Commander Raymond Alexander, a Camarillo father of three, is now discovering that standing for liberty may cost him his job.
Alexander faces the choice between continuing his military service or resigning, after receiving a military order requiring that he receive the COVID-19 vaccine — which he believes is an inappropriate requirement. He is challenging the order and intends to resign unless the mandate is rescinded before the implementation deadline at the end of December.
“[I’m] basically forgoing my potential further career in the reserves,” Alexander told the Conejo Guardian. “It comes down to ‘Do I sacrifice the rights that I hold so dearly as an American and as an American military member, having seen countries where individual rights are just tread upon with complete disregard? Do I participate in the abandonment of individual sovereignty? Do I accept one step closer toward tyranny for the convenience of my financial stability?’”
Alexander enlisted in the Navy in 1999 and worked on fast-attack submarines, serving at Port Hueneme and in Afghanistan. He later entered the reserves and was deployed to Saudi Arabia, Iraq and again to Afghanistan.
But this September, upon arriving at his monthly reserves training, Alexander, like most other reservists, received a “page 13” telling him he must get the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of December. A “page 13” is a standard form in the Navy for conveying particularly important orders that need to be acknowledged formally and signed off by individuals.
“Your current medical records indicate that you have not been vaccinated against COVID-19,” one part of the document reads. It continues, “The following corrective action is required: Within XX days of this administrative counseling, you will complete receipt of the COVID-19 vaccination using an FDA approved vaccine.” (The XX appears in the original.)
That put a choice before him.
“I understand that when I accepted the responsibility of being in the military, one of the most important, fundamental challenges I had to address for myself … was, ‘Am I willing to make a decision or take an action that I disagree with? Am I willing to be ordered to do something that I may morally or ethically disagree with, but that I may have to execute?’” he says.
Alexander decided to oppose the order’s validity and sent an email up his chain of command, providing statistics he derived from Centers for Disease Control data and his analysis of why he concludes the order isn’t necessary.
“In the military, we’re trained to make risk-based decisions,” Alexander told the Guardian. “The page 13 is phrased to imply the vaccine is intended to provide for my health and safety or the health and safety of the Navy as a force. It also states that the threat from COVID-19 is deadly and real, and so using that as the basis of this vaccine without providing any additional data. What’s evident to me, what we call ‘from my foxhole’ — from what I see, from where I am — the vaccine is not necessary, so I challenged the basis of the order. … In my mind it’s the obligation of the people mandating that we get this vaccine to demonstrate that justification if questioned, and I am absolutely questioning it.”
His email to his superiors was clear. It reads in part: “I do not plan to submit a waiver mainly because I do not believe the order itself is justifiable. When the order is wrong, the correct course of action is to challenge the order, not request a personal waiver, which demonstrates tacit agreement with the order.”
After then explaining his research, which showed people of his age at extremely low risk of death from COVID, he stated: “At its core, I believe this mandate is founded on flawed, politically motivated, bureaucratic group-think. I believe it is an unwarranted violation of individual sovereignty and, therefore, a violation of my right to bodily autonomy. It is a very real consequence of a growing acceptance of tyranny in American governance. This order is fundamentally un-American.”
As of mid-September, nobody up the chain of command has countered his objection in any substantive way. Recently, the Navy sent out a revised page 13 that he thinks is “designed to cover their butts legally from a variety of angles.”
“I think they’re anticipating challenges,” he says.
Alexander says that in the past, questions about questionable orders have always been met with “reasonable and supportable arguments to the counter.”
“There is time to say, ‘Here’s our order and here’s why we’re doing it. Here’s the data that we are using that support why we’re mandating that you take this vaccine,’” Alexander says.
Now he sees three paths ahead. Getting the vaccine against his own conscience or desire “is the least morally correct thing to do,” he says. On the other hand, he could refuse the order outright and force a military justice proceeding or a court-martial. Alexander plans to chart a third path of resistance: He will sign the page 13 to acknowledge receipt, then attach a statement explaining his reasoning against the mandate and his responsibility to challenge orders he believes are flawed. In addition, he will state his intent to resign from his position if the order does not change.
“There’s this sense of dread and disappointment,” he says. “Tragedy is probably the right word to use in respect to the circumstances in which I find myself. Add onto that my career-long feeling of responsibility to any sailor that’s been attached to me, and any commander I’ve worked for, and I see this as a much broader tragedy. It’s happening to everyone’s career right now.”
If that’s the path the Navy forces him to take, he will lose a chunk of his income, medical benefits — and, most importantly, a long loyalty to that branch of the armed services.
“I walked through so many fires for the military that to end it [in this way] … It seems like such a tragedy,” he says. “[The] two-decades-long sense of sacrifice and commitment I’ve had for the service, coming down to this almost comical hill upon which we’re sacrificing our commitment to service. … I could probably consider this a sense of mourning. … I feel like I’m ending something that’s been this massive part of my life for 22 years.”
He believes the order will decimate leadership in the U.S. military, whose iron-fisted, ham-handed approach to vaccination is causing intelligent, critical-thinking officers to jump ship.
“Would you rather have an officer in the military who accepts without challenge or consideration?” he says. “Or would you rather have an officer weigh the order and think critically about it? … You want the kind of officer that will hold people accountable and challenge orders when there’s time to challenge it. There’s nothing in particular that’s making this mandate urgent. We should take our time and be pragmatic. We’re losing officers who will do their due diligence and back up the chain of command on the orders they give.”
Looking to a future without the reserves, Alexander says he will continue to work his civilian job, and “I may be more active politically, to be honest with you.”
He is determined to continue to help protect the basic freedoms of all individuals, as he has done throughout his military career.