As the U.S. military has continued to refuse all religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate and has begun kicking out service members not complying with the mandate, some service members are calling it a “purge.”
Multiple Marines who spoke anonymously to Fox News on Wednesday and refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine said the administration is forcing out the “best and brightest” in the military in what they described as a “political purge.”
One Marine major with more than 17 years on active duty said, “There’s something fundamentally wrong at this point with our nation’s leadership. We are facing an unconstitutional edict that I think is very targeted as a political purge, taking out some of the best and brightest soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and guardians from the Space Force.”
A lieutenant colonel with more than 19 years on active duty added that the military was kicking out service members “as fast as they can and as brutally as they can, damaging every Marine as much as they can on the way out.”
The Marines said they have been subjected to the military’s “blanket” denial of religious waivers that reject service members’ requests with no consideration and point only to “military readiness.” Fox News said it viewed eight letters of denial and all were “nearly identical.”
According to data provided to Washington Examiner on Thursday, 206 Marines have been kicked out of the service for refusing the vaccine. Among active-duty Marines, 94% are fully vaccinated and 1% are partially vaccinated. Roughly 9,000 active-duty Marines remain unvaccinated.
No religious exemptions have been approved out of 3,247 requests. Only just over 1,000 medical or administrative exemptions were approved.
Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Ryan Bruce told Fox News that the branch’s three-member Religious Accommodation Review Board considers religious exemptions on a case-by-case basis, but added that “no religious accommodations have been approved for any other vaccine in the past seven years.”
Just before branches began firing service members for refusing the vaccine, a bill was signed to prevent the vaccine refusers to be dishonorably discharged. Now the lowest discharge service members may be separated with is a general discharge under honorable conditions, which still causes members to lose out on benefits such as the G.I. Bill.
The Marine Corps has the lowest vaccination rate of the military branches behind the Air Force and Space Force’s 96%, the Navy’s 96%, and Army’s 98%.