Follow Us

Female Air Force reservist wins new job, promotion after fighting COVID vaccine mandate

She Persisted: After being denied religious and medical exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, Col. Brandi King finally received her promised promotion and a new position.

Published: November 16, 2023 11:00pm

Updated: November 17, 2023 11:01am

Brandi King, an Air Force reservist who was reprimanded after seeking religious exemptions to the military COVID-19 vaccine mandate has been assigned a new position and received her promotion despite being in limbo status for over a year, following a report by Just the News. 

After fighting the repercussions of the military COVID vaccine mandate for more than two years, King, who serves in the Air Force Reserve has been assigned a new position and received her promotion to full colonel

King, who alleged two years ago that she was fired from her job in the service chief's diversity office for seeking a religious exemption to the vaccine mandate, was involuntarily transferred into the Non-Participating Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) last year. She was six months away from retirement at the time and had previously received a letter of reprimand after seeking a medical exemption for the vaccine mandate. 

The IRR meant that King no longer had an active status in the Reserve, and was in a state of limbo in which she couldn't participate in drills, receive military orders, or receive any pay or retirement. She was ineligible for military healthcare and had to fully pay life insurance premiums on her own in order to keep it. 

However, while the Air Force Reserve involuntarily transferred King into the IRR, the Air Force Selection Board selected her to "full-bird colonel" and she received Senate confirmation this year. Her rank is now directly under that of a Brigadier General. 

King told Just the News last week that as far as she knew, she was still in the IRR, and hadn’t yet been promoted to the position for which she received Senate confirmation. 

She has been working in her civilian job, flying planes internationally, which was what she also did for the Air Force Reserve. King said last week that she can fly troops all over the world with her civilian job, “but can’t sit next to them in uniform,” which she called “ridiculous” and “illogical.” 

King also told Just the News that because she has a nearly two-year gap in her record, her career was “absolutely killed.” 

Just the News reached out to the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) last week for comment on the story, but didn’t receive a response before publication. 

On Tuesday, AFRC told Just the News that King was promoted to colonel on April 1st, and assigned to a new position at March Air Reserve Base in California. 

When reached for comment regarding the AFRC’s response, King told Just the News that she had received an email less than an hour earlier about being assigned to her new position in the active Reserve. 

Just the News followed up with AFRC on Wednesday, which provided more clarification regarding King’s promotion: “Col King has been working with a recruiter and has secured a colonel billet at March ARB. Those assignment actions have just been completed, thus her recent notification.” 

King told Just the News on Wednesday that her new unit “is incredibly helpful and kind, and doing their best to keep me informed.” 

She explained that she was told in January about being selected for colonel, but because she was “involuntarily removed from active service,” there was confusion in the Air Force regarding how to handle the situation. 

King said that she hadn’t heard back about the promotion to colonel, but applied to several colonel positions in February. 

She also told Just the News on Thursday that the April date of rank for when she was promoted to colonel (rather than when she received her new position at the March Air Reserve Base) is helpful because it will allow her to be promoted to the next rank or retire in her current rank sooner.

However, she says her career has still been negatively impacted by the time spent out of the active Reserve.

"The fact that I was inactive for over a year and a half has a detrimental effect on my career," King explained, adding that she "missed out on two years of pay and points toward retirement plus health benefits."

"Also, whereas during this time those in my peer group have been able to gain one or two more favorable annual Officer Performance Reports, potentially high stratifications/rankings from senior officers in those reports (which are highly considered in promotion recommendation forms), additional leadership experience and networking opportunities, I have a large gap in Officer Performance Reports and have not had any opportunities for deployment, leadership experience, schools, high stratification, etc," she added.

"I am at a significant disadvantage in comparison to those in my peer group who were allowed to continue to serve throughout the last year and a half," King continued.

King’s lawyer, R. Davis Younts, told Just the News on Wednesday, “The most striking thing to me about it is that she was a rising star and worthy of being promoted. In the end she was promoted as a reflection of the incompetence. They tried to destroy her career but failed to follow through on administrative hold paperwork to prevent her promotion."

“That really is the irony,” Younts added. “Everything they did to her was motivated by discrimination and retaliation against her because of her faith but ultimately their incompetence and inability to follow through benefited her. 

“Her career is still ruined but there is some measure of justice in this,” he concluded. 

The AFRC declined to comment on Friday. 

The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook

Just the News Spotlight

Support Just the News