Republicans are trying to protect members of the U.S. Military from being dishonorably discharged for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
President Joe Biden’s Pentagon has implemented a mandate for the vaccine, and those who do not comply will be relieved of their duties. According to rhetoric from the White House, it’s clear Biden is in favor of the potential for U.S. Military members to be dishonorably discharged for resisting the order.
“Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has mandated COVID-19 vaccines for all U.S. service members and the Pentagon has declared it a lawful order,” Fox4KC outlined. “But recent communication from the Executive Office of the White House has some lawmakers worried they could be dishonorably discharged for failing to get the vaccine.”
A section of the House’s proposed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) “would bar dishonorable discharges for not getting the vaccine but the White House said that ‘would 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 report added (emphasis added).
Last week, GOP Sens. Ted Cruz (TX), James Lankford (OK), and Roger Marshall (KS) introduced the “COVID-19 Vaccine Dishonorable Discharge Prevention Act,” seeking to block any attempts to dishonorably discharge U.S. Military members who refuse the vaccine.
“[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,” the bill text reads.
“It’s an insult to our servicemen and women who have served with honor to dishonorably discharge them for refusing the COVID vaccine,” Cruz said. “It is the same way we dishonorably discharge those convicted of serious crimes such as treason, desertion, sexual assault, and murder.”
Marshall noted that a dishonorable discharge would strip a service member of their Second Amendment rights and other opportunities.
“To have a dishonorable discharge will take away your Second Amendment, it’s going to keep you from accessing the educational opportunities the military affords as well as access to the VA for your healthcare. So this is a big big deal if you are in the military right now,” he said.
“There is no question about it: American heroes should not be treated as felons because of their personal medical choices.”
Kansas City, Kansas, Attorney Joe DeWoskin told Fox4KC that “the tens of thousands of service members who could refuse the vaccine would have to be court martialed. That would be numerous trials, requiring convictions and sentences, if superiors chose to file charges.”
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, a Democrat, told the Military Times it’s “baffling” to him that some service members might not want to be vaccinated.
“It is just baffling that service members don’t sign up for that,” he said. “You put your life on the line to protect the country, but you won’t take a shot to protect the country? It’s something that as long as I live I will never understand.”