Retired generals, high-ranking officers, physicians, and attorneys held a two-hour news conference to assail the nearly one-year old military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Saying the Pentagon’s no-exceptions policy for all military personnel treats soldiers, sailors, and airmen as “chattel of patent holders,” attorney Todd Callender blasted the Department of Defense (DoD) for violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Military Personnel Rights
Callender’s remarks came at a June 14 press conference hosted by the Arizona-based Truth for Health Foundation, a nonprofit public health watchdog advocating individual medical freedom. Callender was joined by another attorney specializing in the rights of those serving in the military.
Resistance to the vaccine mandate for the military dates to an August 24, 2021 memorandum from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin directing the “Secretaries of the Military Departments to immediately begin full vaccination of all members of the Armed Forces under DoD authority on active duty or in the Ready Reserve, including the National Guard, who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”
Senior officers and officials responded to Austin’s memo with strict measures to enforce the mandate. The order triggered widespread litigation over the military branches’ restrictive approach to religious exemptions to vaccine mandates. Documentation of adverse reactions to the vaccines among people serving in the military has further inflamed public discussion of the policy.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has sent several letters to Secretary Austin regarding unusual patterns of disease that DoD physician whistleblowers have observed in the military’s database.
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the COVID-19 vaccines under the emergency use authorization (EUA) meant the treatments were greenlighted without having to go through the FDA’s customarily long testing process before signing off on new drugs. The EUA led to charges the vaccines were more experimental than the public was given to understand.
“Biden’s betrayal of our military with unlawful orders for all service members to be vaccinated with the experimental EUA COVID shot is weakening our military, jeopardizing national security, and putting every American at risk,” Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D., president, and CEO of the Truth for Health Foundation, said in a statement.
“We are losing experienced and highly trained service members, reflecting billions in costs from taxpayer funds as well as seeing dramatically impaired military readiness such as pilots who cannot fly or cannot complete training, and troops who are too ill to carry out duties,” she said. “This has drastically weakened national security at a time of rising tensions globally, which serves China and globalists’ agendas to take America ’out of the fight’ and take over globally.”
Religious exemptions from medical treatments are allowed in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but the Army, to cite one example, has been reluctant to grant them. The Army had separated 818 soldiers as of June 2 for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, Stars and Stripes reported, citing service data. More than 4,450 religious exemptions have been requested, but the Army has approved only 11, the publication reported.
At the press conference, Commander Robert Green, U.S. Navy, talked about what happened to a female Navy dentist, a lieutenant, who refused to take the vaccine on religious grounds.
“She was banned from her building, threatened with the loss of her dental license and with being dishonorably discharged, and was told she would have to undergo a psychological evaluation,” Green said. “This is weaponizing psychiatry against service members who stand up for their rights.”
By law, service members “have the right to refuse,” Green said.
“What good does it do the military to deny members the dental services needed for readiness?” Green said.
Removals Despite Shortages
Lieutenant John Bowes, U.S. Air Force, filed for a religious exemption and was promptly removed from training to fly the F-16. Those in the military resisting vaccine mandates constitute “not a small contingent,” Bowes said at the press conference.
“Some 136,000 are actively resisting vaccine mandates, according to the DoD,” Bowes said. “More than 700 pilots are actively resisting vaccinations, and 357 pilots, including trainers, have been removed at a time when there is a shortage of 1,650 pilots. Many are leaving for the airlines.”
Several speakers said harassment over vaccines extends into the service academies. Maj. Gen. Rod Bishop, U.S. Army (ret.), said the Coast Guard Academy has “formed cadres to follow unvaccinated cadets into bathrooms.”
Noting reports of “serious medical conditions among young military people” after receiving COVID vaccinations, Vliet said in her press statement. “Why would the DoD continue forcing vaccine mandates? … People aged 25-44 stand little chance of contracting the virus, which primarily afflicts the elderly and the infirm.
“The CDC’s own data is a smoking gun,” Vliet said.
Allegations of Cover-Up
Attorney Mike Rose, who served in the Air Force, now fights for the rights of Air Force Academy cadets “being purged for not taking COVID vaccines.” Rose told the press “there are no benefits from taking COVID-19 vaccines for people in this age group.”
Johnson’s Feb. 2 letter to Secretary Austin demanding an answer to the Pentagon whistleblowers’ allegations that the DoD was covering up injuries from COVID shots “has received no response,” Rose told the press.
Bonner Russell Cohen, Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.
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