Despite the Biden administration's decision to reverse the military's requirement for servicemembers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, experts noted that those who refused the vaccine could still be kicked out.
The military was not able to discharge thousands of service members who were not happy with the new legislation, which was signed by President Joe Biden on Friday. However, members of the armed forces may still be retaliated against after the deadline for implementing the new law passes.
An attorney who specializes in military law noted that the actions of the previous administration have already affected the rights of servicemembers to religious freedom. There is also nothing that can be done to address the issues related to the religious exemptions.
According to Younts, the military had issued letters of reprimand to thousands of unvaccinated individuals, including his own clients. These individuals were denied religious or medical exemptions, and a formal reprimand can result in a basis for discharge.
According to Dwight Stirling, the CEO of a military policy think tank, members who were censured for refusing to get vaccinated will not likely have their adverse reports erased. He said that the reprimands were legal under the previous regime, and nothing in the new legislation changes that.
According to the latest data released by the Department of Defense, about 8,400 service members have been removed from service due to their refusal to get vaccinated. The Army also reported that about 9,000 unvaccinated soldiers remain in the force.
He also noted that the military should stop trying to remove unvaccinated service members. The policy is the same as it was before the NDAA was passed.
Despite the positive effects of the new legislation, Congressman Mike Garcia of California noted that the implementation of the vaccination mandate had already damaged the military's recruiting and readiness.
After the vaccination mandate was implemented in August 2021, several class action lawsuits were filed against the military. These lawsuits were able to prevent the military from issuing further discharge orders.
According to Stirling, the class action lawsuits will continue to be handled in the judicial system.
Before the vaccination mandate took effect, some military officials restricted unvaccinated individuals' access to bases. This prevented them from performing various tasks that are required to advance their careers. In March, a court ruled that the Navy could still prevent unvaccinated sailors from deploying.
According to Younts, soldiers who are considered non-deployable due to their refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19 can be subject to discharge. While the Army is not able to remove unvaccinated individuals from service, it can still issue a policy that prevents them from deploying.
Before the vaccination mandate took effect, some military officials restricted unvaccinated individuals' access to bases. This prevented them from performing various tasks that are required to advance their careers.
The new legislation prevented the military from taking adverse action against unvaccinated individuals. According to Stirling, overturning the policy completely changes the dynamic of the issue. He noted that there should be no distinction between unvaccinated and vaccinated troops.
Now that the military's COVID-19 vaccine mandate is ending, I hope @SecDef gives careful consideration to this letter we sent today urging the Pentagon to freeze all COVID-19 vaccine-related discharges and start undoing the harm caused by this misguided policy. pic.twitter.com/uXmwOhmi62
— Senator Ron Johnson (@SenRonJohnson) December 17, 2022
The debate over the vaccination mandate has been a heated one between the Department of Defense and Republican members of Congress. The Department of Defense argues that the mandatory immunization is necessary to ensure the readiness of the force.
In December, the Pentagon stated that Secretary Austin supports the vaccination mandate. The military's readiness and health are of utmost importance to the country, and the vaccination is necessary to maintain this.
The Department of Defense was given 30 days to come up with a plan to rescind the vaccination mandate. According to Garn, the department is still developing further guidance. Younts, on the other hand, noted that the military has no idea what will happen to the policy.
The preceding is a summary of an article that originally appeared on Daily Caller.