Coronavirus: Thread

grarpamp grarpamp at
Mon Jan 16 23:58:50 PST 2023

No greater dual insult than to backpay the honorable after firing them.

Pentagon "Exploring" Back-Pay For Troops Kicked Out Over COVID Vaccine Mandate

The U.S. Department of Defense may provide back pay to former service
members who were removed for not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine,
coming after the Pentagon repealed the mandate, a spokesperson
confirmed Friday.

A Pentagon spokesperson told The Epoch Times, in response to reports
from Politico and others, that regarding back pay, the “Department is
still exploring this and will provide its views on legislation of this
nature at the appropriate time and through the appropriate process.”

Dietz did not provide a timetable for when back pay might be considered.

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a memo (pdf)
formally rescinding the vaccine mandate after lawmakers passed a
defense spending bill into law in December that required the change.
The Pentagon had already stopped discharging service members who
didn’t get the vaccine.

    “The Department will continue to promote and encourage COVID-19
vaccination for all service members,” Austin wrote, coming about a
year and a half after it was implemented.

    “Vaccination enhances operational readiness and protects the force.”

Commanders can decide on whether to deploy troops who are not
vaccinated, the memo said. That includes when COVID-19 vaccination is
mandated “for travel to, or entry into, a foreign nation,” it added.

    “Certainly commanders do have a responsibility to ensure that if
they’re sending forces to a place that requires a vaccine that that’s
a situation that will be addressed, you know, on a case-by-case
basis,” Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters on

    “But you know, we have a responsibility for the health and welfare
of our forces. And so, you know, again, depending on the situation and
the circumstances, it is incumbent on commanders to ensure that
they’re doing what they need to do to make sure those forces are

The contentious mandate forced more than 8,400 troops out of the
military as top officials said they were refusing to obey an order for
declining to take the vaccine. Thousands of people sought medical and
religious exemptions, although a federal judge last month wrote (pdf)
that the number of service members who successfully obtained religious
exemption is far smaller than those who got medical exemptions.

Austin said more than 2 million service members, or 96 percent of the
active duty and reserve forces, are fully vaccinated.

In August 2021 and after the Pfizer vaccine was granted emergency use
authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, Austin instituted
the mandate and said that it was necessary to protect the health of
the military force.

He and other defense leaders argued that for decades troops,
particularly those deployed overseas, had been required to get as many
as 17 different vaccines, including shots for anthrax. No other
vaccine mandates were affected by the new rules.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in
December that the Biden administration believes removing the mandate
was a “mistake,” repeating claims from Austin that the shot makes
“sure our troops are prepared and ready for service.” President Joe
Biden ultimately signed the bill when it passed both chambers of

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference at
the Pentagon in Washington on Nov. 3, 2022. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

Despite those arguments, Congress agreed to rescind the mandate, with
opponents reluctantly saying that perhaps it had already succeeded in
getting the bulk of the force vaccinated. Some lawmakers have
expressed concerns that the mandate and other policy directives have
driven down enlistment in recent years.

Those members of Congress argued that ending the mandate would help
with recruiting. Defense officials have pushed back by saying that
while it may help a bit, a department survey during the first nine
months of last year found that a large majority said the mandate did
not change the likelihood they would consider enlisting.

Those who were discharged for refusing to obey a lawful order to take
the vaccine received either an honorable discharge or a general
discharge under honorable conditions.

Austin’s memo says that anyone who was discharged can petition their
military service to request a change in the “characterization of their
discharge” in their personnel records. It does not, however, say what
possible corrections could be awarded.

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