By LTC Tricia Vinson, US Army ret
My topic is the COVID-19 vaccine mandate and potential impacts on the military’s readiness. When you disagree with the Army’s senior leadership & the MSM’s perspective, finding quality references can be difficult. Differing opinions still need to be voiced, and potential ramifications on military’s readiness considered.
Although the mandate is technically over, there is a residual effect on esprit de corps, recruiting and retention.
The details below come from individuals that are either whistleblowers, legal opinions/arguments/affidavits for lawsuits provided by those putting their careers in jeopardy to let others know what is going on within the Army and or/DoD. As a retiree, I no longer have direct access to information. The information I am voicing has been consistent since the current administration and leadership has been in office, from various sources.
I have been interested in this topic for over two years; not just for this EMAG meeting. The lead within the federal legislature on this issue is Senator Ron Johnson (WI) and his staff if you seek further collaboration and details. To make my position very clear, I believe the enforcement of this mandate by senior leadership was an illegal order for the reasons below and the tyrannical way the mandate was implemented will have lasting negative impacts on both recruiting and retention.
The trust of military leadership has been broken and not easily repaired.
18 USC 241: Conspiracy Against Rights. If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, territory, commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same.
On August 23, 2021, the same day the vaccine licensing agreement was approved it also expired. That means that Comirnaty, the legally licensed FDA product, produced using the standards required in manufacturing a quality product has never been produced nor met the quality control measures for a consistent product, vial to vial.
To be clear, NO Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine product has been produced that has met the FDA standards specified in the SECDEF vaccine mandate. Similar issues are associated with the Moderna vaccine.
The following day, the original mandate dated 24 August 2021 signed by the Secretary of Defense Austin mandated an FDA approved vaccine not the Emergency Use Authorized (EUA) series. The mandate directed all Military departments to immediately begin full vaccination of all members of the Armed Forces under DoD authority on active duty, in the Ready Reserve, including the National Guard and imposed an ambitious timeline for implementation.
The original memo requires that, “Mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 will only use COVID-19 vaccines that receive full licensure from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in accordance with FDA-approved labeling and guidance.”
Since there has never been an FDA manufactured COVID-19 vaccine, the mandate as written should be null and void. So, what changed?
The FDA approved version or ‘Comirnaty’ has never been produced, but leadership put out directives that the EUA and FDA approved ‘vaccines’ were interchangeable, although legally they are not.
Guidance directing the military to use the EUA and FDA ‘vaccines’ interchangeably was provided by the acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Terry A. Adirim on 14 Sept 2021 “use doses distributed under the EUA to administer the vaccination series as if the doses were the licensed vaccine”.
This is not official FDA guidance and is hearsay with respect to the legal status of Pfizer-BioNTech labeled vaccines. Per Note 8 of the August 23, 2021, reissue of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine EUA (https://www.fdagov/media/150386/download) states they are only Authorized for Emergency Use.
The Navy’s memorandum of the interchangeability of the EUA and FDA vaccines is dated 3 September 2021, 6300, SER M00/21M00035 signed by B.L. Gillingham. FRAGO 5 to HQDA EXORD 225-21 gives specific guidance for every soldier who is not otherwise exempt to be fully vaccinated against COVID 19.
Similar directives were given by all services. The SECAF signed his memo on 7 Sept 2021 directing all active-duty AF be fully vaccinated NLT 2 Nov 2021, with two doses with the second dose administered NLT 19 Oct 2021. No service rejected the premise that the FDA & EUA shots were interchangeable or provided a legal decision.
On 12 November 2021, in Doe et al. v. Austin, U.S. Federal District Judge Allen Winsor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida rejected a claim that the EUA being given to the military was interchangeable with the fully licensed Pfizer’s Comirnaty vaccine.
Within the Army, specific directions were provided to the department using HQDA EXORD 225-21 COVID-19 Steady State Operations and was updated over time through HQDA issuing FRAGOS which is a fragmentary order adjusting the original orders with updated changes. There were 38 FRAGOS to the original order.
Since all COVID-19 vaccines given to the military were EUA, they required fully informed consent (option to refuse) prior to administration in accordance with conditions for authorization of unapproved products in U.S.C. Title 21, Chapter 9, Sub Chapter V, Part E, Section 360bbb-3(e)(1)(A).
Months later Comirnaty labeled vials were sent to several military installations, but those formularies were produced in the EU and not under FDA standards and so do not meet the specifications directed in the SECDEF’s original mandate.
Threats to service members were vocal and repeated by all levels of command throughout the services, warning service members who refused to vaccinate might face dishonorable discharge and confinement.
The dishonorable discharge was taken away by the next NDAA, although the military found other ways to punish those that didn’t comply.
‘Refusal to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, absent an approved administrative or medical exemption, will constitute a failure to obey a lawful order’ (Vaccination on NAVPERS 1070/613).
According to the Nuremberg Code Principles, the voluntary consent of the human subject is essential for any drug administered under the legal status of experimental use authorization. The person involved must be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion, and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him/her to make an understanding and enlightened decision.
Therefore, mandated the COVID-19 vaccines is in violation of U.S.C. Title 2150.20 general requirements for informed consent.
Army regulation AR40-562, signed on 7 Oct 2013 and remains in effect today and applies to all services, p.2-6a.(1)(b) provides documented survivors of an infection, a presumptive medical exemption from vaccination because of the natural immunity acquired as a result of having survived the infection. Natural immunity has been reaffirmed as superior to vaccination per long established virology protocol.
Additional violations of 10 U.S.C. 1107, DoD Directive 6200.2, & FDA regulation of bilogics at 21 C.F.R 50, et seq., as well as the law regarding informed consent 50 U.S.C. 1520 (The Nuremburg Code).
The federal government/agencies have not complied with the requirements of those controlling pieces of federal law, making administration of this ‘vaccine’ in blatant violation of federal law, the attendant regulations & the U.S. Constitution, denying due process of law and violating their bodies.
Relief was requested per the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. 702 et seq., the Federal Declaratory Judgments Act, 28 U.S.C. 2201 & all the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. 1651.
Federal law requires that the SECDEF request to the President for a written authorization to waive a servicemember’s right to informed consent include the certification that such vaccination is required as to a particular member’s participation in a specified military operation that contains very specific information (includes the extent and strength of the safety & effectiveness of the new drug in relation to medical risk that could be encountered during the military operation, that the servicemember may present a substantial risk to a chemical, biological, nuclear, or other exposure likely to produce death or serious or life-threatening injury or illness and no alternative is available and that not taking the new drug would directive impact the accomplishment of the military mission).
There is a lengthy process to override a servicemember’s right of informed consent before the administration of any EUA drug or device.
There is a near zero risk to healthy, fit, young men and women of the U.S. Armed Services so those conditions for the mandate did not exist.
Per LTC Long’s (Army) affidavit the normal Army servicemembers in their 20-30’s had a survival rate of 99.997%.
At the time of her affidavit, less than 20 active-duty personnel out of 1.4 million died of the underlying SARS-CoV-2 (date not on the affidavit but was ~March 2022).
Dr. Long is a board-certified aerospace medicine doctor and ‘received specialized military training from Infectious Disease doctors from the Army, Navy and Air Force on emerging infectious disease threats, FEMA training, Emergency preparedness training, Medical effects of Ionizing Radiation, OSHA, Aerospace Toxicology, Epidemiology, Biostatistics, medical research and disaster planning.’
By law, there is a legal right to seek a religious accommodation from any duty or requirement including vaccines. There has been an ‘unofficial’ decision not to honor any religious accommodation request, making servicemembers leave the service and potentially face criminal charges if they did not get the shot series.
Military members were required to submit to at least weekly COVID-19 tests before entering military facilities (according to two fragmentary orders or FRAGOs) issued 21 November 2021. Soldiers weren’t allowed to enter DoD facilities without a negative test no greater than 72 hours old.
DoD cites that not a single service member has died of COVID-19 since early 2022, but doesn’t account for the new phenomenon called Sudden Adult Death Syndrome or SADS; a sudden death of a seemingly healthy adult.
Ft. Bragg, now Ft. Liberty stopped releasing information on deaths when the numbers got up to 140 or on average one a week since the mandate went into effect. No known cause or allowed linkage to the vaccine has been made. No other cause has been identified.
The results of this mandate are that every service member was either directly affected, or watched someone they know be forced to get the shot, get kicked out of the service (over 8,000) and it negatively impacted over 40,000 national guard members.
Administratively, service members were given general officer reprimands which is career ending, put into military incarceration for months (USMC female enlisted), and a couple were court-martialed (Army 1LT Bashaw) and then kicked out.
Military records were found to have listed as vaccines received to be Comirnaty, which is a falsification of the patient’s medical records which is considered a felony crime with up to 5 years in prison. Since there has never been a FDA approved production of Comirnaty, these records are false.
It was FRADO 13 of the COVID 19 Steady State order 225-21 that stopped Reserve and National Guard pay as of 1 July 2022. FRAGO 22 reminded that no unvaccinated service member is eligible for official travel or any type.
DD-214 were given honorable discharges, but had an additional code added that specified reason was for a serious offense which eliminates immediately all or almost all veteran benefits, to include no transition of medical benefits or transportation expenses back to their home station.
Military members were dealing with JAGs that wouldn’t write an opinion on whether the Pfizer was FDA approved or not, so commanders followed the higher command’s orders.
National Guard members were told they were not allowed to participate in drill or annual training (AT) unless fully vaccinated and months later were told they were AWOL and would be kicked out if they didn’t immediately return to their positions within the the Guard. A total of 38% of the National Guardsmen aren’t’ vaccinated and were not permitted to drill under the vaccine mandate.
There were suicides associated with this mandate, including service members going through the lawsuit process and saw no hope of a lawful outcome.
Per a federal judge in Texas who ruled in January 2021 halting punishment for 35 Navy special operations members who refused the covid-19 shots, “There is no military exclusion from our Constitution… There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment.”
Service members were given reprimands, were taken out of command billets, taken off promotion lists & were given up to 5 calendar days to comply and then be relieved from duty. Soldiers were administratively flagged IAW AR 600-8-2 and mandatory separate paperwork was initiated.
Deployed soldiers were prevented from returning home at the end of their tour, or to take leave to see their families for unaccompanied tours.
The AF revoked security clearances for being unvaccinated.
With FRAGO #35 the Army was still able to follow punitive guidelines that were employed in the execution of the mandate and caused untold damage to the troops.
While the DoD claims around 8000-9000 service members were involuntarily separated over the vaccine mandate, it doesn’t include the thousands who “voluntarily’ separated, retired or were unable to reenlist.
Many service members are still dealing with career ending administrative decisions put into soldier’s personnel records.
On 24 February 2023 the Secretary of the Army put out guidance that said any adverse actions be stopped of any ongoing cases and to update or remove flags or correct any adverse actions associated with the mandate rescission.
General Officer Memoranda of Reprimand (GOMOR) were to be removed if associated with a refusal to get the vaccine. Negative evaluation reports, if due to mandate refusal would be reviewed with the rating chain deciding if the evaluation report should remain, be modified, or removed IF the Soldier sought an exemption.
Former Soldiers may petition the Army discharge Review Board and the Army Board for Correction of Military records to request corrections to their personnel records, including records regarding the characterization of their discharge.
An online comment made to a group focused on the military vaccine mandate said, “The military isn’t worth this nonsense. How can anyone trust these PPL who’s supposed to have their back?” There were multiple agreements to that statement.
YTD % for US Army Reserves Enlisted Personnel as of the end of August 2023 (11 months) was at 65%. Mission was 23,700 and YTD was 11,023.
Per The Hill online news, 3 Oct 2023, the Army missed its 2023 goal by 10,000; short of its 65,000 target, a miss for the second year. This is the lowest number of active-duty troops since 1940, having dropped from 485,000 in 2021 to 452,000 in 2023.
The National Guard is believed to have done better than either the active Army or Reserves.
Impacts to the Academies
Very public disenrollment has been done at all the academies.
The Coast Guard expelled seven cadets for refusing the COVID vaccine and given 24 hours to ‘get-out’ for failure to comply with what is likely an illegal order to receive the Covid-19 Vaccination; reported on 25 August 2022.
On 13 August 2022, West Point Cadets were denied religious accommodation request appeals and were given 24 hours to plan to get the vaccine (Friday at 4 pm) with continued refusal to result in separation from the service. Cadets were informed their separation could be honorable, a general under honorable conditions or other than honorable discharge.
With the last two discharge types (who could be previous military) the cadet or midshipman may be ineligible for many if not all veteran’s benefits and may be negatively impacted in obtaining future civilian employment.
West Point held this decisions/paperwork for two full days before giving it to the cadets Friday afternoon limiting their ability to consult attorneys or medical professionals.
West Point leadership denied all 2024 cadet appeals three days before affirmation and they were counseled they had less than 24 hours to get the vaccination. If they failed to get that vaccine by 1600 hours the next day, they would receive a general officer memorandum of reprimand and would be separated from the academy within 96 hours.
At the USAFA, one of four seniors gave an interview that he had very devout religious beliefs, had filled the appropriate religious exemption paperwork, as well as researching and knowing that there was a very low mortality rate among young, healthy active-duty personnel; and that there were more than 600,000 adverse vaccine reactions reported to the government, including permanent heart damage among young men, as well as the illegality of mandating experimental vaccine not fully approved by the FDA.
Cadet Nathan Suess said, “I could not dirty my conscience” by obeying an unlawful order undergirded by “deception and dishonesty.”
A week later, the academy publicly outed and humiliated the quartet–threatening to force them to reimburse their tax-subsidized tuition (upwards of $200,000) and denying them military commissions.
The ‘Navy brat’ now feels ‘ostracized’ and betrayed by leaders who have ‘made everything up on the spot’ in defense of sham science and unconstitutional orders.
This is tyranny at its finest,” as he packed his bags. “We do not swear an oath to obey our leaders,” Suess declared defiantly. “The Constitution always comes before military mandates.”
On 18 May 2022, a USAFA cadet from the academy (one of the four mentioned above) voluntarily resigned rather than get the vaccine. AFA Cadet First Class Jameson Barnard went onto FOX news on 18 May 2022 to discuss the academy’s refusal to graduate and commission these four cadets; discharge of them from the Air Force and the recommendation that they be required to pay $165,000 to the Air Force if they do not take the shot, despite their religious objections to that vaccine.
Cadets and midshipmen who refused the shots were segregated, removed from athletics, masked, and risk their careers for not taking the shot.
In April 2022 a note went out to the private group that there were 16 West Point cadets that were in danger of being kicked out of West Point for having refused the vaccine due to religious beliefs.
There was one cadet that refused the shot, but not on religious grounds (illegal order and concerns over the safety and heart issues being discovered in vaxed young men) who was dismissed from the academy. He wouldn’t lie that he had a religious exception, and filed appropriate paperwork requesting a non-religious exemption, but was kicked out anyway.
For each of the above cases, the Corps of each academy witnessed the tyranny associated with these cases for what was, at the very least, a controversial mandate, if not an illegal order.
None of the leadership in power stood up for their soldiers, cadets, midshipmen, etc.
I know of many veteran parents that have recommended their children consider other careers. I also know of many veterans who have retired due to these draconian measures, and many military members with obligations that plan on getting out as soon as their obligation ends.
There is a loss of trust in the military leadership and in my opinion, rightfully so.
A staff member at the USAFA commented on an academy private group that they were appalled at the how many state champion athletes now have heart conditions. Of course, the doctors say it isn’t due to the vaccine shots. The staff member doesn’t believe the students are getting proper treatment due to the disavowing of the potential of the vaccine shot being the cause.
A title of an article published 2 October 2023 by the American Thinker is: “The West Point Conundrum: How do you fight for a country you’re taught to hate?” by Andrea Widburg. West Point is an institution driven by the Long Gray Line, patriot leaders. Now they have a minor that separates ethnicity and ‘privilege’ dividing the country that can be considered anti-patriotic. Seems the academy is now teaching systemic racism, sexist and homophobic as defined by the left’s revisionist history.
Rather than teaching the constitution, and Martin Luther King’s vision to be color-blind, we no longer look to strive for a better America, but to be ashamed of our history and why it is evil.
How better to get promoted then to espouse the left’s identity politics by showing you are a follower by taking this minor?
Where is the importance of the Constitution and the values instilled in our history and culture?
My recommendation for inclusion into the NDAA, so directed by our federal legislature, is that each Service, using their Board Of Corrections, must initiate and correct each service member’s records that was harmed by this mandate.
That includes the correction of all DD-214’s (NGR 22’s, etc) to confirm an honorable discharge, with all serious offense and negative codes associated with vaccination/mandate removed; all evaluation reports removed or corrected with any negative information associated with disobeying an order, any negative counseling’s or flags removed, and any verbiage stricken associated with the mandate.
Those removed from command or leadership positions should be provided new comparable positions if still in the service.
Those members taken off promotion lists should have their rank adjusted and back pay provided based on their original promotion dates.
Those service members that were denied benefits (due to the serious offense codes) should be compensated for the costs of those benefits that any military member would have received when leaving their commitments.
Enlistment bonuses or retention bonuses removed from service members leaving the service (voluntarily or involuntarily due to the covid mandate) should have those payments returned.
That means normal health care benefits equivalent costs, transportation costs to their home of record, etc. should be provided if originally denied due to the covid mandate debacle.
Academy cadets and midshipmen should have their records cleaned and provided military scholarship funding without a service obligation due to their removal from the academies.
My primary consideration above is not to make the service member return, but not to have residual impacts to their future life’s path due to the covid mandate illegal orders.
Maybe we can restore some trust if we do a good job of repairing the damage done to those that pledged an oath to the Constitution and were denied the freedoms established within our founding documents.
Only 43 of the more than 8,000 US service members who were discharged from the military for refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19 have sought to rejoin eight months after the vaccine mandate was officially repealed, according to data provided by the military branches.
Many Republicans argued that the vaccine mandate hurt military recruiting and retention efforts, which was part of the rationale for forcing the Defense Department to cancel the vaccine requirement. The military mandated the vaccine between for only 15 months from August 2021 through January 2023, when it was rescinded by law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. It marked perhaps the first time in US military history that a vaccine requirement was reversed.
But since the repeal, only 19 soldiers have rejoined the Army, while 12 have returned to the Marines, according to service spokespeople. The numbers are even smaller for the Air Force and Navy, where only one and two have rejoined, respectively, the services said…..