Pentagon considers providing back pay to troops discharged due to the Covid vaccination requirement

Date:

Pentagon considers providing back pay to troops discharged due to the Covid vaccination requirement

  • news by AUN News correspondent
  • Monday, January 16, 2023
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • After threatening to postpone the yearly defense policy bill if they didn’t get a vote on repealing the mandate and reinstating troops with back pay, a group of Republican senators last year, led by Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, prevailed in their battle to do so.

  • The Pentagon and the White House said they wanted to keep the mandate, but the action went against what they said they wanted to do.

  • The order was overturned, but it did not mandate that the Pentagon give the soldiers who were fired for objecting to the shot their jobs or pay them back.

  • Because they didn’t want to get vaccinated, more than 8,400 soldiers were kicked out of the army.

  • According to Austin’s memo, the Pentagon has immunised more than two million service members, and 96 percent of the force—active duty and reserve—is now wholly immunized.

Maj. Charlie Dietz, a spokesman for the Pentagon, wrote to POLITICO on Friday: “Regarding back pay, the Department is still examining this and will share its opinions on legislation of this sort at the proper time and through the appropriate process.”

Republicans who blasted the vaccine mandate would benefit from paying back wages. After threatening to postpone the yearly defense policy bill if they didn’t get a vote on repealing the mandate and reinstating troops with back pay, a group of Republican senators last year, led by Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, prevailed in their battle to do so.

Both the Pentagon and the White House said they wanted to keep the mandate, but the action went against what they said they wanted to do. The order was overturned, but it did not mandate that the Pentagon give the soldiers who were fired for objecting to the shot their jobs or pay them back.

According to Austin’s message, the military must also reverse any “adverse actions,” like letters of reprimand, that happened because a service member refused to get the COVID-19 shot because they “sought an accommodation on religious, administrative, or medical grounds.”

But the document makes it clear that commanders can take a soldier’s immunization history into account when deciding whether or not to deploy, assign, or send them abroad.

Because they didn’t want to get vaccinated, more than 8,400 soldiers were kicked out of the army. When the DoD got rid of the rule, many of the thousands of extra requests for religious and medical exemptions were still being processed. Austin’s directive ordered the military services to stop reviewing those cases.

According to Austin’s memo, the Pentagon has immunized more than two million service members, and 96 percent of the active duty and reserve forces are now fully immunized. Almost all active-duty Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps members, as well as 98 percent of the Army, have been vaccinated.

Even some Democrats agreed that the mandate might no longer be necessary, given where the pandemic is now and that most troops have already been vaccinated.

In an interview with POLITICO, House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith (D-Wash.) stated, “I was a powerful advocate of the vaccine mandate when we implemented it.” But does having that policy begin in August 2021 make sense now?

In an interview on Wednesday, a day after the mandate was overturned, former Vice President Mike Pence asked President Joe Biden to bring back and pay back troops who were kicked out for refusing the shot. The mandate was dubbed “unconscionable” by Pence.

Pence urged the Biden administration and the Pentagon to reinstate every man and woman discharged from our armed forces because they refused to take the vaccine and give them 100 percent back pay for the time they were out of the service. “I think now that Secretary Austin has implemented what Congress passed into law, lifting the vaccine mandate on members of our armed forces,” Pence said.

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