Biden DOD firing vax refuseniks to 'purge conservative service members': House Armed Services member
Between 8,000 and 16,000 troops are still eligible for discharge for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine prior to the elimination of the military's vaccine mandate, according to Rep. Jim Banks' office.
The Biden administration is seeking to "purge conservative service members" from the armed services for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine despite the lifting of the military's mandate, says Indiana Republican Rep. Jim Banks, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Members of the military who refused the COVID-19 vaccine prior to the elimination of the mandate are still eligible for firing on a case-by-case basis, the Pentagon told the House Armed Services Committee chairman in a letter Banks released Thursday
A total of 69,000 troops did not receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and 53,000 sought a medical or religious accommodation, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gilbert Cisneros wrote to Armed Services Chairman Mike Rogers in the Feb. 27 letter.
Of the 69,000 unvaccinated troops, 37,000 applied for a religious exemption from the military's vaccine mandate. Of those applicants, 19,100 were denied, and 400 were approved, according to the data provided in the letter. To date, 8,100 individuals have been separated from the military for not complying with the mandate.
A spokesperson for Banks said about 16,000 members of the military did not apply for an accommodation and refused to take the COVID vaccine.
The vaccine mandate was rescinded in December 2022 as part of the $847 billion defense authorization bill despite Biden's support for keeping it in place.
The letter said service members who refused to comply with the mandate and did not request an exception are currently being evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Banks slammed the Department of Defense's handling of the vaccine mandate.
"It's incredibly divisive and cruel to fire patriotic service members for refusing to comply with a partisan and harmful rule that no longer exists," Banks said. "To me, the only explanation is that the Biden administration wants to purge conservative service members from the military."
Cisneros had told lawmakers in a recent hearing that any member of the military who was discharged prior to the vaccine mandate elimination could reapply for admission to the military. He didn't say if the military is actively reaching out to discharged service members.
Attorney R. Davis Younts, who represents an unvaccinated Air Force pilot who didn't request an exemption from the COVID vaccine mandate, told Just the News on Thursday that the Defense Department's position is that the unvaccinated service members didn't follow what was a lawful order at the time.
The DOD doesn't "want to admit" that the vaccine mandate "was an unlawful or improper order in the first place," Younts said. If the department did, then it would lead to "thousands" of service members who were kicked out of the military with adverse discharges going to boards of correction about getting them changed and possibly filing lawsuits.