Military readiness ‘fragile’ despite vax mandate rollback, back pay and reinstatement must follow

Various news articles regarding the NDAA bill repealing the vax mandate for the military:

Military readiness ‘fragile’ despite vax mandate rollback, back pay and reinstatement must follow (Fox News, 15 DEC 22)
A group of Republican senators cheered the end of the Biden administration’s military vaccine mandate in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), but warned that readiness and recruitment problems mean there must be additional efforts to reinstate terminated service members and provide them with back pay. Senators led by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., on Thursday condemned the Biden administration’s treatment of U.S. troops and warned that partly due to the mandate, military recruitment is at a “record low,” which is detrimental to the security of the nation. . . . . (read more)

‘BETRAYAL’: Military Members Discharged for Refusing COVID-19 Vaccine Despite Religious Objections Speak Out (Daily Signal, 15 Dec 22)
Military members who were discharged for refusing to get vaccinated are speaking out about their struggles since asking the military to honor their religious objections to the mandate. . . .

Many service members have objected to getting the vaccine on religious grounds and have requested religious exemptions to the vaccine: 9,068 members of the Army, 4,187 members of the Navy, 1,350 members of the Coast Guard, 3,740 members of the Marines, and roughly 11,000 members of the Air Force requested religious exemptions, The Daily Signal has learned. The military granted very few of these exemption requests: 123 to members of the Army, 51 to members of the Navy, 12 to members of the Coast Guard, 23 to members of Marines, and roughly 200 to members of the Air Force.

In total, 8,424 military members have been discharged, the Department of Defense confirmed to The Daily Signal on Thursday: 1,841 in the Army, 3,717 in the Marines, 1,631 active in the Navy and 401 in the Navy Reserve, and 834 in the Air Force. The Coast Guard, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security, confirmed to The Daily Signal that it has discharged 273 members. These numbers have sparked heavy concerns about the military’s readiness and the service members’ conscience rights. . .  . (read more)

Meet Lt. Col. Michael Berry: Father Of Four, 18 Years Of Service, And A Victim Of Biden’s Vaccine Tyranny (The Federalist, 13 DEC 22)
Lt. Col. Michael Berry, a father of four with 18 years of military service and one of the countless victims of Biden’s vaccine tyranny. Berry was inspired to join the United States Marine Corps nearly two decades ago because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2008, and from 2009-2012 he served as an adjunct professor of law at the United States Naval Academy. Before this year, Berry served in the Marine Corps Reserve as a senior appellate litigation attorney. . . . (read more)

Senate Passes Defense Bill That Will Lift Military Vaccine Mandate—Sending It To Biden’s Desk (Forbes, 15 Dec 22)
The Senate on Thursday approved a $858 billion military spending bill that passed the House last week and would revoke the military’s Covid-19 vaccine requirement, sending the legislation to the desk of President Joe Biden, who opposes the vaccine rollback and has not said whether he will sign the bill. . . . (read more)

Senators Urge Pentagon Freeze COVID-19 Vaccine-related Discharges, Reinstate Discharged Service Members With Back Pay
Quotes from the letter: “Thousands of brave men and women were harmed because of the Pentagon’s misguided approach to the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.” . . . . “All branches of our military are facing significant recruiting problems, including problems arising from the vaccine requirement. Therefore, it is in our readiness and security interests to keep these brave men and women within our ranks. Moving forward with discharges over a requirement that has been rescinded by Congress would be deeply misguided.”

“The Pentagon must take every action necessary to undo the harm American service members and their families suffered when they were forcibly discharged from service. We urge you to establish a quick and thorough process so all members who were discharged because they refused the COVID-19 vaccine can be reinstated with back pay and full benefits. Doing so would provide the clarity and stability American service members and their families deserve.”

Read the Senate Letter to SECDEF (pdf)

Rep. Greg Steube vows justice for troops punished for COVID-19 vaccine refusal (Just the News, 17 Dec 22)
. . . Florida Republican Rep. Greg Steube is vowing to introduce legislation to obtain justice for those punished for refusing to comply with the military’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate. “I intend on filing my own bill,” Steube said on the John Solomon Reports podcast Wednesday. “I am … not naive” about prospects for passage of such a bill in a Democrat-controlled Senate, he said, “but thankfully, the House has the power of the purse, and … when we do the appropriations process over the next year, we can put riders on appropriations bills to tell the Department of Defense how they’re going to give relief to these individuals.” . . . . (read more)

Service member lost pension after 19-year career over military’s vaccine mandate (Fox News, 18 Dec 22)
Former Coast Guard Petty Officer Chris Harkins joined ‘Fox & Friends Weekend’ to discuss his reaction to the move and why he believes it feels like a ‘purge’ of certain religious beliefs.

Fort Polk Master Sergeant Files Suit Against Biden Administration Over Religious Exemption Denial for Vaccine Mandate (Pelican Institute, 19 DEC 22)
Today, the Pelican Center for Justice filed suit against the Biden Administration in the Western District of Louisiana. The suit was filed on behalf of Master Sergeant Robert W. Galey, Jr., and seeks an injunction against the administration’s unjust COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the United States Army. Driven by his Christian faith, Master Sergeant Robert W. Galey, Jr., chose a life of service in the U.S. Army. That’s why he’s given sixteen years of his life as an active-duty infantry soldier and deployed eight times to combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. When the Army first told service members that they must receive the vaccine, Master Sergeant Galey began to research the production process. He discovered that the vaccine they would have to take was tested and produced in a way that violated his profession of faith. His first request for exemption was denied, as was his appeal. He received a final notice that he will be separated from the Army. . . . (read more)

Biden to sign NDAA ending military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate this week (Washington Examiner, 19 DEC 22)
President Joe Biden will sign the National Defense Authorization Act “this week,” the White House said on Monday, resulting in the end of the Pentagon’s coronavirus vaccine mandate.. . . (read more)

Repeal of military vaccine mandate comes months after KRDO 13 Investigates USAFA cadet dismissal coverage (KRDO News, CO, 20 DEC 22)
It’s been five months since 13 Investigates profiled multiple U.S. Air Force Academy cadets who were “dismissed” from service for remaining unvaccinated against COVID in violation of a Department of Defense mandate. The vaccine mandate for military members has been in place since August 2021 after the Department of Defense (DOD) declared the “emergency use authorization” shot as a requirement for military service. Three senior cadets at the Air Force Academy defied that order and were denied graduation and commissioning to the Air Force.  Months later, the cadets were allowed to get their degrees, but by then, their May graduation was in the rearview mirror. Jameson Barnard, one of the refusing cadets, has since moved onto a civilian engineering job and told 13 Investigates he has no interest in returning to service his country.. . .  (read more)

Unvaccinated military members could take vaccine mandate debate to courts (Fox News)
Legal panelists weigh in on the debate over the military’s vaccine mandate on ‘Fox News @ Night.’

They bravely served, but the US Senate let them down (Washington Examiner, 22 DEC 22)
. . . .Consider just some of the stories of our country’s service members who lost their livelihoods because of the vaccine mandates. . . (read the article)

Texas Judge Blocks Army From Discharging 10 Soldiers As Bill Blocking Vax Mandate Sits On Biden’s Desk (Daily Caller, 22 DEC 22)
A Texas judge temporarily blocked the Army from discharging 10 unvaccinated soldiers Wednesday, court documents show, as a bill overturning the Department of Defense (DOD) vaccine mandate awaits President Joe Biden’s signature.

Every branch of the military but the Army is currently under legal prohibition from discharging thousands of servicemembers who have refused or sought exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Wednesday’s case does not grant a class certification to the plaintiffs seeking religious exemptions, meaning soldiers not included in the lawsuit could still be separated, but sets the stage for a possible service-wide injunction, according to Aaron Siri, one of the lawyers on the case.

The plaintiffs — including a First Lieutenant and five West Point cadets — sued for a stay on the DOD’s separation policy, saying they had faced adverse treatment from the Army for their refusal to take the vaccine or been denied exemptions without proper consideration, according to the court opinion. . . . . (read article)

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