GOP Senators Working To Protect Military Members From Dishonorable Discharge For Refusing Covid Vaccine
[guest post by Dana]
Prohibition on Adverse Personnel Actions Taken Against Certain Members of the Armed Forces Based on Declining COVID-19 Vaccine and Expansion of Exemptions from Vaccination Requirement. The Administration strongly opposes section 716, which would detract from readiness and limit a commander’s options for enforcing good order and discipline when a Service member fails to obey a lawful order to receive a vaccination. To enable a uniformed force to fight with discipline, commanders must have the ability to give orders and take appropriate disciplinary measures. The Administration also strongly opposes section 720, which would create a new and overly broad exemption from the vaccination requirement for previous infection that would undermine the effectiveness of the requirement. The Department will make available a full range of resources to Service members, including individual and professional medical advice, to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccine and to ensure they are fully informed about vaccination.
Meanwhile, Republicans are working to protect servicemembers from a “dishonorable discharge” for refusing a Covid vaccine:
On Tuesday, three GOP senators introduced the “COVID-19 Vaccine Dishonorable Discharge Prevention Act,” which builds on an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that passed in committee earlier this month. An honorable discharge is the highest category of military separation and gives a veteran full-access to benefits to which their service entitles them.
In a press release, GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Roger Marshall of Kansas, and James Lankford of Oklahoma blasted President Joe Biden’s administration for not being sufficiently supportive of the troops.
“It’s an insult to our servicemen and women who have served with honor to dishonorably discharge them for refusing the COVID vaccine,” said Cruz. “It is the same way we dishonorably discharge those convicted of serious crimes such as treason, desertion, sexual assault, and murder.”
The text of the bill, released by Cruz’s senate office, specifies that a “member of an Armed Force under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of a military department subject to discharge on the basis of the member choosing not to receive the COVID–19 vaccine may only receive an honorable discharge.”
Recent Covid vaccine rates for members of the military:
A total of 1.1 million troops are already fully vaccinated against the virus, which has infected more than 238,000 service members and killed 46, according to the Pentagon’s latest update.