Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a memo in August calling for mandatory vaccinations against COVID-19 for all U.S. troops. At the time, there were reportedly more than 800,000 unvaccinated service members.
The Biden administration recently railed against an amendment that would ensure any military member refusing to get the COVID-19 would receive an honorable discharge, instead of the punitive dishonorable discharge.
"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," the White House argued against the provision. "To enable a uniformed force to fight with discipline, commanders must have the ability to give orders and take appropriate disciplinary measures."
Vet Verify explains how dishonorable discharge can be life-destroying for service members:
A dishonorable discharge is a punitive discharge rather than an administrative discharge. It can only be handed down to an enlisted member by a general court-martial. Dishonorable discharges are handed down for what the military considers the most reprehensible conduct. This type of discharge may be rendered only by conviction at a general court-martial for serious offenses (e.g., desertion, sexual assault, murder, etc.) that call for dishonorable discharge as part of the sentence. With this characterization of service, all veterans' benefits are lost, regardless of any past honorable service. This type of discharge is universally regarded as shameful, and the social stigma attached to it makes it very difficult to obtain gainful post-service employment. Additionally, US federal law prohibits ownership of firearms by those who have been dishonorably discharged. In most cases, a person who receives a dishonorable discharge loses the right to vote and the right to receive governmental assistance of any kind. They cannot obtain a bank loan and they are unable to find work at the state or government level. Finding gainful civilian employment is also an arduous task for someone with a DD as most states now require employers to conduct background checks and the results of military records and discharges are often disclosed. Going to college is another pitfall because government loans and grants are unavailable for anyone with a DD. This is a permanent record that will follow the individual for the duration of their lives anywhere in the world.
There are reportedly current American service members who are extremely distressed about the potential of rejecting the COVID-19 vaccine and being dishonorably discharged, according to Liberty Counsel – a self-described "Christian ministry that proclaims, advocates, supports, advances, and defends the good news that God in the person of Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins and offers forgiveness and eternal life to all who accept him as Lord and Savior."
The organization claims to have been "inundated with heart-rending pleas for help from military members who are being ordered to get the COVID shots or face discipline."
"A United States Marine who served in Afghanistan during Operation Freedom Sentinel and Operation Southern Vigilance is facing dishonorable discharge if he does not get the COVID shots," the report alleged. "This service member graduated as the Honor Graduate of the class in a course meant for Corporals and Sergeants and is currently serving as an E4 (Corporal)."
The Marine has previously been diagnosed with two heart conditions: arrhythmia and right bundle branch blockage. "Taking the shot isn't an option for this Marine due to the side effects of blood clots and heart inflammation being seen," Liberty Counsel alleged.
"The military personnel informed the Marine that the only way for a medical wavier was that the diagnoses would have to be congenital heart failure," the report said. "He is also being told there are no religious exemptions."
The anonymous Marine corporal told Liberty Counsel, "If I don't stand for what I believe in, I could never look at myself in the mirror again. This is everything I've fought for and taught my Marines and everything our Founding Fathers stood against. This is completely unconstitutional and goes against more than one Amendment."
Last month, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Roger Marshall, (R-Kan.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) introduced the COVID-19 Vaccine Dishonorable Discharge Prevention Act to bar the Department of Defense from dishonorably discharging service members for opting not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
It's an insult to our servicemen and women who have served with honor to dishonorably discharge them for refusing the COVID vaccine. It is the same way we dishonorably discharge those convicted of serious crimes such as treason, desertion, sexual assault, and murder. Forcing all service members, including pregnant women and those who have already had COVID-19, to receive the vaccine is just one more example of President Biden and his administration putting politics ahead of science. I am proud to join Sen. Marshall on this crucial bill to ensure the proper steps are taken by the military chain of command in response to those seeking exemptions from this vaccine.
In August, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky) hosted a roundtable discussion with a dozen anonymous members of the U.S. military to hear their concerns about vaccine mandates.
A major with 17 years of active service informed Massie that he already contracted coronavirus and recovered. However, the officer suffers for a heart condition and is concerned about taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
"Privately I've been told that I qualify for a medical exemption, but the pressure put on the medical staff is such that none of the doctors are willing to officially sign off," he revealed.