By Harold Hutchinson, The Daily Caller News Foundation
A former Army surgeon blasted the Department of Defense, saying she would not take up an offer to return to service as the Army and Air Force struggle with recruiting.
The Air Force and Army have sent letters to former military personnel who were separated from the service for refusing to accept a vaccine for COVID-19, offering them the chance to upgrade their discharges and possibly return to duty.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin rescinded the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate in January, following Congressional action.
“I’m not planning to at this time,” former Army Lieutenant Colonel Danielle Smith told Fox News host Laura Ingraham when asked if she was considering re-enlisting.
“It’s incredibly disingenuous after what they did to not only me, I’m just one of thousands who were forced to resign or involuntarily separated, and now they are coming back with no apology, you know, no back pay, no back entitlements. They are saying come back now. We need you. We need help.”
The Army missed its recruiting goals for fiscal year 2023, with only 55,000 personnel joining compared to a goal of 65,000.
“It’s complete nonsense. And, you think about – as a physician, so, physicians are notoriously hard to retain in the military, particularly surgeons and I was only one of 15 of my kind that they forced to resign over this and now, you know, they have lost my trust,” Smith told Ingraham.
“They have lost my faith. They made it very clear to me that they didn’t care about my health and well-being,” Smith continued.
“They didn’t care about my personal opinion and professional opinion.
They didn’t care about my family, you know, my babies and it’s hard to come back from that.
They have crossed the line.”
Smith said she sought medical and religious exemptions for the vaccine, but that they were denied.
“I’m a Catholic and I had 3-month-old at the time the mandate came out. As you said, I was a nursing mom and, you know, becoming a mom really intensified my faith. I think hearing your baby’s heart beat for the first time is probably the closest you can get to god on this earth,” Smith told Ingraham.
“And I just knew in good conscience I couldn’t take this vaccine. So, I submitted the religious accommodation request, which took months and months.”
“I submitted it, I think, in September and I didn’t get a response until December which was actually quick compared to other service members,” Smith continued.
“The response I got was basically how dare you, this is the grave risk. You know, overwhelming, danger, danger that you could be around soldiers and not be vaccinated.
Yet, at the same time, for months, I was expected to show up for work and continue to take care of patients and do my job.”