Since August 2021, multiple thousands of service members were abruptly dismissed from service after refusing to adhere to a sudden COVID-19 vaccine mandate, shortly after the Pentagon made the vaccine compulsory for all service members.
In response to the dismissed service members, and in light of multiple court rulings on mandates, Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey has introduced legislation, known as HR 7570, which will permit service members dismissed over mandated vaccines to be reinstated, as reported by The Washington Examiner.
“My legislation will ensure that our brave men and women in uniform … receive the benefits they deserve and have the opportunity to continue serving our great nation,” Smith said,” noting that service members had been “unjustly punished because of their personal medical or moral decisions.”
According to the language of HR 7570, military leaders will be required to reinstate various service members who desire to continue in their service to the nation, at the same rank and grade as before.
“These forced discharges are no way to treat American heroes who sacrifice so much and put their lives on the line to preserve and defend our safety,” Smith declared.
In addition, for members who no longer wish to return to service, the bill also offers other protections, including honorable discharge and the ability to secure benefits and pensions via the G.I. Bill.
“No one should lose their jobs or pensions because they do not want the COVID vaccine — especially,” Smith continued, “[in particular] our courageous service members who step up to defend the very freedoms we enjoy.”
Per the armed services, at least 30,000 individuals who serve in the military have yet to receive the vaccine. However, several thousand of these individuals have been successful in acquiring permanent administrative or medical exemptions, according to a report from CBS News.
Approximately 20,000 service members are currently working towards an exemption, or they have simply refused to receive the COVID vaccine. The 20,000 service members constitute approximately 1.5 percent of roughly 1.3 million active duty troops, per the same CBS report.