Army Officer Is 29th US Service Member to Die from COVID-19

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The operations officer for I Corps, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, has become the U.S. military's 29th COVID-19 casualty.

Army Lt. Col. Scott Flanders, 56, died Aug. 2 in San Antonio, Texas, at Brooke Army Medical Center, where he was being treated, according to an I Corps press release. He had been serving with the unit since February.

The officer, who previously was enlisted in the U.S. Navy, hailed originally from Boston and deployed twice to Afghanistan, according to Army officials.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Lt. Col. Scott Flanders's family," said Brig. Gen. William Ryan, special assistant to the deputy commanding general of I Corps. "Our priority is to take care of his family, ensuring they have all the resources they need during this difficult time."

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Flanders earned his commission as an air defense artillery officer in 1994 through the Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

His awards included the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and Navy Good Conduct Medal, according to the Army.

The Army did not respond to an inquiry about Flanders' vaccination status.

To date, 29 U.S. service members have died from COVID-19, including 12 active-duty personnel. Flanders is the fourth active-duty and highest-ranking soldier to die from the coronavirus.

COVID-19 cases among U.S. service members have soared with the spread of the Delta variant. In the past week, the Defense Department has recorded 5,167 new cases among troops.

To combat the rising infection rate, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Monday that he will ask President Joe Biden to issue a mandatory vaccine order for U.S. service members in mid-September or will require the immunizations as soon as they receive full approval from the Food and Drug Administration, whichever comes first. Biden said Monday that he would approve the request.

Nearly 218,000 U.S. service members have contracted the coronavirus since the outbreak began, and 1,962 have been hospitalized.

As of Wednesday, 1.06 million service members across all DoD services and components were fully vaccinated, or roughly 51% of the total force.

-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Monster.com. Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.

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