Approximately 3,400 troops have been discharged from the military for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) joined colleagues who informed leadership that they will oppose moving forward with the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), unless the Senate votes on an amendment to:
- Prohibit the involuntary separation of a member of the Armed Forces based solely on a service member’s COVID-19 vaccination status.
- Reinstate those who may have already been separated with back pay.
The notice was delivered in a letter to Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Republican Whip John Thune (R-SD), Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), and Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO).
“The Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccine mandate has ruined the livelihoods of men and women who have honorably served our country,” the Senators wrote. “While the Department of Defense certainly must make decisions that will bolster military readiness, the effects of the mandate are antithetical to readiness of our force, and the policy must be revoked.”
As of 2022, approximately 3,400 troops have been discharged from the military for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“The United States simply cannot afford to discharge our brave men and women in uniform and lose the investments we have made into each and every one of them due to an inept bureaucratic policy,” the Senators continued. “While training costs vary between each service, the Army, for example estimates it spends 15,000 in recruiting costs to bring someone into the service and another $50,000 to $75,000 to prepare them to join their first unit, depending on their first job.”
The lawmakers explained that the military also faces challenges with recruitment.
“Military recruitment is reportedly down 23% from annual targets,” the Senators added. “Therefore, due to costs and recruiting challenges, losing thousands of troops due to their vaccination status is a readiness issue that the Department should take seriously.”
“We respectfully request that the Senate vote to remedy a policy that adversely affects our service members and our national security,” the lawmakers concluded.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) led the letter, which was also signed by Rick Scott (R-FL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mike Braun (R-IN), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS), Tommy Tuberville (R-AK), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Josh Hawley (R-MO).