Sen. approves bills to protect military members who refuse COVID vaccinations

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 2:18 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Senator Roger Marshall has put his stamp on two new bills introduced that would protect members of the military who choose to not get vaccinated against COVID-19.

On Thursday, June 2, U.S. Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) announced his support for new legislation which would protect Americans who attend service academies that choose not to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Sen. Marshall said the bills come as the U.S. Air Force Academy recently announced unvaccinated graduates would not be commissioned. He said cadets and midshipmen that do not get commissioned could be forced to repay tuition, room and board expenses for their time at the Academy.

Marshall said the Defending Freedom of Conscience for Cadets and Midshipman Act of 2022 would protect those at the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. He said the bill would bar punishment for their choice to not get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

Marshall also said the Allowing Military Exemptions, Recognizing Individual Concerns About New Shots Act of 2022 would also counter President Joe Biden’s Administration’s work to punish active duty service members who decide not to get vaccinated. He said the bill would also introduce accountability measures in response to the Department of Defense’s efforts to undermine transparency.

“Joe Biden’s outrageous and plain mean-spirited vaccine tyranny knows no bounds – now punishing aspiring heroes who have earned the honor of joining the officer ranks,” said Senator Marshall. “As a former Army doctor and having led the fight against dishonorable discharges for service members who choose to not get the COVID vaccine, I am proud to support these important bills. Despite our victory in December, the Biden Administration is still pressuring service members to get the vaccine and finding ways to punish those who decline. I support those who are defending our freedoms and have carefully weighed their decision on whether to receive the COVID vaccine. It is shameful that President Biden would rather have patriotic Americans, who have nothing but a desire to put on their country’s uniform, stay on the sidelines instead of proudly serving in our military.”

In December 2021, Marshall said his legislation to prevent service members from receiving a dishonorable discharge for their decision to not get vaccinated against the virus was signed into law by President Biden as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Marshall noted that dishonorably discharged U.S. service members surrender the following rights and benefits:

  • Ownership of any sort of firearm or ammunition
  • Access to the GI Bill for further education
  • VA home loans
  • VA medical benefits
  • Military Funeral honors
  • Re-enlistment in another military branch.

The Senator indicated that the AMERICANS Act would enact the following:

  • Require the Secretary of Defense to make every effort to retain unvaccinated service members, and strengthen language to ensure members get discharge classifications commensurate with their record of service
  • Require the DoD to report the number and type of COVID-19 vaccine religious exemptions that have been denied and create an exemption from COVID-19 vaccine requirements for service members with natural immunity
  • Extend protections offered to service academy students to Reserve Officers’ Training Corps members

Marshall noted that the AMERICANS Act was introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and co-sponsored by himself.

Marshall also said the Defending Freedom of Conscience for Cadets and Midshipmen Act would:

  • Clarify that cadets and midshipmen cannot be denied graduation for not being vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Prevent cadets and midshipmen from being dismissed from their service academy as a result of refusing to be vaccinated
  • Prevent any cadet is not allowed to commission due to their COVID-19 vaccination status from being subject to repayment claims

This legislation was introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and co-sponsored by himself.

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