During a rally on Saturday, former President Donald Trump called for the rehiring of all U.S. troops who were discharged for refusing to take the COVID-19.
“Next year, a Republican Congress should pass a bill rehiring every single member of the military who was cruelly and wrongfully terminated by Joe Biden and his ridiculous COVID mandate and force the Pentagon to give these patriots an apology and full back pay,” Trump said to cheers from a massive crowd of supporters in Texas.
“It’s time for the American people to declare independence from every last COVID mandate,” Trump said. “We have to tell this band of hypocrites, tyrants, and racists we’re done with having them control our lives, mess with our children, and close our businesses — we’re moving on from COVID whether they like it or not, we’re moving on.”
Tens of thousands of U.S. troops could potentially face separation for refusing to comply with the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. So far, roughly 500 service members across all branches have been discharged, with the majority being removed from the Marine Corps at 399 as of Jan. 26.
To date, the entire military has received more than 14,000 religious exemption requests for the vaccine. The U.S. Army has approved none of the 2,128 requests it has received; the U.S. Air Force has approved none of about 4,900 requests it has received; the U.S. Navy has approved none of about 3,700 requests it has received; and the United States Marine Corps has approved two of 3,350 requests it has received.
In its statement, the Marine Corps said, “All current exemption requests are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Each request will be given full consideration with respect to the facts and circumstances submitted in the request.”
“Due to privacy considerations, we are unable to discuss the specifics of any individual request,” Capt. Andrew Wood, a spokesman for the Marines, told American Military News.
During his speech, former President Trump also praised the Canadian trucker demonstration that is expected to break the world record for longest convoy as part of a massive protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
A spokesman for the effort, dubbed Freedom Convoy 2022, told the Toronto Sun that the caravan was 70 km (43.5 miles) long. The Freedom Convoy departed Vancouver for Ottawa on Sunday to push back against the Canadian government’s vaccine mandates for truckers, which went into effect on Jan. 15. Fox News reported that the Canadian Trucking Alliance believes about 15 percent of Canadian truckers – roughly 16,000 drivers – are not fully vaccinated.
“We are with them all the way,” Trump said. “They’ve really showed something. Time to move on.”