Former JAG says military leaders are overruling physicians, revoking COVID exemptions
"We’ve seen senior military commanders who are overruling independent physicians and putting them under duress to change their medical opinion," the attorney said
A former Army JAG now in private practice told The Star News Network that he has seen senior military commanders overrule physicians, pressure them to reverse their opinions, and rescind COVID-19 vaccine exemptions from service members who had been granted them.
Sean Timmons, a military law expert at Tully Rinckey, said directives to take the shots are illegal, as is the use of pressure to bring doctors' positions in line with the desires of military command.
"By just having a doctor rubber-stamp whatever action the command wants is not complying with his ethical duty to provide care independent of duress from unethical actors," he told the network.
"That to me is wholly unlawful because you’re removing the patient and provider privilege and you’re removing the ethical concern the doctor has as a duty to treat a patient."
Timmons said he personally knows an Army doctor who was punished for giving one soldier an exemption to the COVID vaccine.
"That physician was removed from his job and then overruled, and they made the soldier see another doctor who then complied with the mandate from higher command to deny medical waivers and medical exemptions," he said.
Speaking just days after the Army National Guard vowed to begin punishing thousands of members for not receiving the COVID vaccine, Timmons stressed that such actions are illegal.
"The COVID-19 vaccine directive to take the shot that’s being provided at this time is an unlawful order because it is a medication, not really a vaccine," he told the network. "The medication is experimental and it is not effective to the extent advertised."
Timmons said he and Tully Rinckey have already successfully argued the mandate is unlawful before separation boards, an administrative board convened when a branch of the military desires to expel service members for poor job performance or other reasons.
Department of Defense data show that more than 420,000 service members have had COVID and that 95 of them died, while more than 2 million in total are partially or fully vaccinated.