Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) joined Republican Senate colleagues in successfully securing a provision in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to protect servicemembers from the Biden Administration’s COVID vaccine mandate. However, the provision does not address the penalties and discharges previously incurred, so the Idaho Senators sent a letter to President Biden requesting that reparations be made.
“Servicemembers who were reprimanded or unfairly discharged based solely on COVID-19 vaccination status under the Department of Defense’s (DOD) current policy should immediately have their records cleared and be reinstated. The DOD’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate is responsible for the discharge of approximately 3,400 troops who have made a decision for themselves in line with their personal values. At a time when our military is facing its greatest recruitment challenges in decades, bringing thousands of troops back into duty is not only the right thing to do, but it is necessary,” Senators Crapo and Risch wrote in the letter.
Servicemembers have faced challenges in complying with the DOD’s onerous COVID-19 vaccine mandate. This includes members who made the personal decision not to receive the vaccine. As a result, in addition to those who have been discharged, many were grounded, issued letters of reprimand, had clearances rescinded and have been removed from training opportunities due to sincerely-held beliefs.
The letter requests that after the passage of the NDAA, any penalties incurred from a servicemember’s refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine be expunged from their records, and any servicemember or federal employee who was unfairly discharged or terminated due to these mandates be reinstated.
The full text of the letter is available here.