U.S. Army troops will have to take mandatory drug tests upon returning from their holiday vacations—but the military won’t spend a dime on their COVID-19 tests, The Nation reports. Thousands of service members have contracted the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic but a memo about holiday leave obtained by the publication fails to mention COVID-19 testing. It does, however, lay out plans for drug testing. “Within 72 hours of return from HBL [holiday block leave], 100% of IET [Initial Early Training Units] Soldiers in training will be administered the urinalysis test. Results of urinalysis testing will be reported to USACIMT [US Army Center for Initial Military Training] POC [point of contact] as soon as results are received by the unit,” the July 2020 memo states. The military covers COVID-19 “when medically necessary” but that doesn’t include holiday leave.
“This means that any COVID test required for HBL [holiday block leave] must be paid out-of-pocket, which has led to all manner of creative and deceptive attempts to work around the policy,” a military official told The Nation. “Leaders from my unit have openly advised soldiers who planned on traveling to states with travel restrictions to purchase flights to bordering states and to have family pick them up and bring them into the restricted state.”