COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Governor Henry McMaster said Monday South Carolina will not punish National Guardsmen over the COVID-19 vaccine.

Gov. McMaster said the state will not court-martial guardsmen who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

In a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Gov. McMaster said he plans to “withhold court-martial convening authority for the Adjutant General and any subordinate commanders in connection with a soldier’s failure to comply with the Department’s vaccine mandates.”

Gov. McMaster said the vaccine mandates issued by the Department’s Service Secretaries are “at odds with law and logic, both because they exceed the federal government’s constitutional and statutory authority and because they fail to account for the current circumstances related to COVID-19.”

McMaster has been outspoken against any kind of mandate – face mask or vaccine – since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. But he has encouraged people who prefer the safety options to utilize them as the state worked to slow the virus.

“Unless the Department agrees to cease enforcement of these mandates or a court enjoins the same, I intend to make clear that any adverse action taken against a member of the South Carolina National Guard on account of their vaccination status is not of my making but is solely due to the Department’s implementation of the Biden Administration’s misguided and unlawful policies,” Gov. McMaster said in his letter.

You can read a copy of McMaster’s letter by clicking here.