Pentagon mulls back pay for troops kicked out over Covid vaccine mandate

The Pentagon is considering providing back pay to former service members who were discharged for refusing to get the Covid-19 vaccine, now that the mandate has been repealed, according to a spokesperson.

The Defense Department formally rescinded the mandate in a memo from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday, after lawmakers directed the Pentagon to do so in the annual defense policy bill that passed into law in December. The military had already stopped discharging troops who refused the shot.

Austin’s memo opened the door to reinstating troops who believe they were wrongfully let go, stipulating that service members and veterans may apply to correct their records. While the military has not yet made a decision on providing back pay to service members for the time that they were discharged, a spokesperson said the department is looking into it.

“Regarding back pay, the Department is still exploring this and will provide its views on legislation of this nature at the appropriate time and through the appropriate process,” said Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Charlie Dietz in a Friday email to POLITICO. . . . (read more)

Service members terminated over unvaxxed status could be reinstated in military with GOP-led bills (Fox News, 13 JAN 23)
Republicans are pushing a handful of bills that would help service members who refused the Biden administration’s military vaccine mandate to be reinstated in the force and also be discharged honorably. . . .

. . . Reinstatement is a priority for some Republicans who have said the strict mandate is one reason why military recruitment is at a “record low.”

Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Wis., introduced a bill that would ensure service members who refused the vaccine will be honorably discharged.

“Our men and women in uniform should never have been stripped of the benefits they earned in the first place,” Fitzgerald told Fox News Digital.

“This legislation is about reinstating what was rightfully promised to them for their honorable service to our nation. In this year’s NDAA, Republicans made progress by ending the vaccine mandate for servicemembers, but this work isn’t finished. We must do right by those who were discharged,” Fitzgerald continued.

Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., is leading a bill that would direct the Secretary of Defense to reinstate military members who were involuntarily terminated due to their unvaccinated status.

“There are two issues at play here: there are thousands of individuals who were unceremoniously booted from their posts at the same time that every branch of the military is facing recruitment challenges,” Mast told Fox News Digital. “This bill gives us a chance to right a wrong for those servicemembers who chose to exercise their right to medical freedom, and to get qualified and trained troops back in uniform and protecting our country.” . . . (read more)

Pentagon Appears to Have No Plan to Reinstate Troops Discharged for Refusing Vaccine Mandate (Daily Signal, 11 JAN 23)
The Department of Defense has rescinded the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for service members. But the Pentagon doesn’t appear to have a plan to reinstate military personnel who lost their jobs for refusing the vaccine.

The Daily Signal asked the Defense Department whether there would be an effort to bring military personnel who had been discharged for refusing the vaccine back into the military.

“Regarding your final question, former service members may petition their Military Department’s Discharge Review Boards and Boards for Correction of Military or Naval Records to individually review and correct personnel records, including records regarding the characterization of their discharge,” Pentagon spokesperson Lisa Lawrence told The Daily Signal in an email Wednesday.

The Defense Department issued a memo Tuesday explaining that military members dismissed for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine may be eligible to receive an honorable discharge, but the memo did not acknowledge any plan to reinstate those men and women.

The Pentagon confirmed to The Daily Signal in December that a total of 8,424 military members have been discharged for refusing the vaccine. . . . (read more)

Pence: Discharged military members should be reinstated, get back pay over vaccine mandates (The Hill, 12 JAN 23)
Former Vice President Mike Pence in an exclusive interview called on the Biden administration to reinstate and provide back pay to members of the military who were discharged for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine now that the mandate for the shot has been lifted.

Pence, in a Wednesday interview with The Hill, called it “unconscionable” that some troops were put in a position to decide between serving their country and complying with the vaccine mandate, which was instituted in August 2021. The mandate was rescinded through a bipartisan defense policy bill signed into law late last year.

“I think it was unconscionable that the Biden administration mandated the vaccine on members of the armed forces of the United States, and I celebrate Congress’s recent decision to rescind that mandate, but that doesn’t go far enough,” Pence said.

“I think now that Secretary Austin has implemented what Congress passed into law, lifting the vaccine mandate on members of our armed forces, now I’m calling on the Biden administration and the Pentagon to reinstate every man and woman that was discharged from our armed forces because they refused to take the vaccine, and give them 100 percent back pay for the time after they were discharged,” Pence continued. . . . (read more)

Congress must right the wrongs of the military vaccine mandate (Washington Examiner editorial, 14 JAN 23)
President Joe Biden’ s Department of Defense did the bare minimum under federal law this week to undo the damage caused by the military’s COVID vaccine mandate. But the memo issued by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin repealing the mandate did not go far enough to compensate military personnel who were discharged because of it or in doing what is needed to bring back force levels to what our military needs. . . . (read more)

Unvaccinated military members still facing repercussions despite rescinded COVID-19 mandate (Just the News, 15 JAN 23)
Despite the Department of Defense rescinding the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, unvaccinated military members are still facing repercussions, including denied benefits, ineligibility for promotion, being non-deployable, and potentially diminished employment prospects for those already discharged. . . . (read more)

Lawsuits over military vaccine mandate to continue despite DOD rescinding it (Center Square, 12 JAN 23)
Liberty Counsel is continuing with its lawsuits in federal court over the Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccine mandate even after the mandate was rescinded this week. Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver told The Center Square he wasn’t confident that the DOD wouldn’t continue to retaliate against service members who’d filed religious accommodation requests (RARs) and has expressed concerns about all military branches failing to comply with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. . . . (read more)

Significance of Military Stopping Vaccine Mandate (NTD, 11 Jan 23)
Dr. Peter McCullough speaks about a range of vaccine related issues, starting with the military rollback of the vaccine mandate.

Big Navy Stops Booting Sailors Who Refused Covid-19 Vaccine (Coffee or Die, 12 JAN 23
The US Navy will stop booting sailors who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine. On Thursday, Jan. 12, the Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Adm. Richard J. Cheeseman Jr., ordered all commands worldwide to “immediately discontinue administrative separation processing of Navy service members solely for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, including those with approved separation letters.” The three-star also ordered all commands to halt “any new adverse administrative actions associated with refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.” . . . .  (read more)

What People Are Saying

(comments from the articles)

“As a veteran myself, I would hope the vast majority of those dismissed for not taking the vaccine would tell the government where to stick their offer to return to active duty.”

“Unless someone was a couple years away from full retirement or they had a MOS that they enjoyed can not do in civilian life such as fighter pilot, I wouldn’t go back. Anyone who does will likely face backlash from their commanding officer and other superiors who complied and stayed in.”

“Reinstated with back pay AND an apology.”

“I wouldn’t go back. I would request an honorable discharge and retroactive pay from time of dismissal. Democrats destroyed the military morale just like the border patrols. No surprise the military is having recruitment problems.”

“I am just going to state the obvious here. Legislation should not be required to correct this injustice.”

“They absolutely should be reinstated and get back pay for any time they were denied. This was a travesty from the very beginning.”

“In a nutshell: This administration has ruined this country and the lives of many, and of those who serve.”

“My daughter held out as long as she could before the Navy threatened to discharge her with no benefits. So she got jabbed. Makes me sick.”

“ONLY reason they are trying it is not because its the right thing to do but the military across all branches can not meet their enlistment quotas. No one wants to enlist, and now the ones that DID enlist got tossed to the curb…why would they WANT to come back??”

“They should reinstate these people. Considering how much it costs to educate and train the military, they are worth more in the military than outside. Aside from that, recruiting is way low.”

“Take the back pay and don’t look back. This new woke, equity lead military is a disaster.”

“Affected members should be compensated accordingly. The military is unable to meet its target recruitment and is becoming a shadow of itself full of wokeness and woke workers. God help us if we are ever attacked. We will need militias again.”

“Soldiers are not required to follow unlawful ( read unconstitutional) orders. If you are not allowed to determine if/when the Constitution applies then how are you supposed to defend it?”

“About time somebody starts showing our enlisted men and women some respect and concern.”

“who would want to go back? who could ever trust a government that did this? who? not anybody who values honor, justice, fidelity, righteousness, and truth.”

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