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Leak: Pentagon not planning to reinstate 8,000+ fired troops who refused COVID vax, says report

A U.S. Navy Sailor receives the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Luke Cunningham)
December 28, 2022

A Defense Department public affairs guidance document exclusively obtained by investigative reporter Jordan Schachtel shows that while the military Covid-19 vaccine mandate has ended, the Pentagon has no plans to reinstate thousands of service members who were discharged for refusing to take the vaccine.

The Defense Department document entitled “PUBLIC AFFAIRS GUIDANCE: RESCINDING THE COVID-19 VACCINATION MANDATE” acknowledges that troops discharged over the vaccine want to know if they will be reinstated.

However, the Pentagon fails to confirm or deny whether such reinstatements will occur, stating, “All Service members and Veterans may apply at any time to the appropriate Discharge Review Board or Board for Correction for Military/Naval Records if they believe that there is an error or injustice in their records.”

The guidance also recognizes that “some members of Congress have indicated they will look next year to support ways to reinstate or provide back pay for Service members who were dismissed for refusing to take the vaccine.”

The Pentagon does not reveal whether it is for or against potential legislation that would force the reinstatement of troops discharged over the vaccine, stating, “The Department will provide its views on legislation of this nature at the appropriate time and through the appropriate process.”

President Joe Biden officially killed the Covid-19 vaccine mandate for the military in the defense budget bill he signed into law Friday. More than 8,000 active-duty troops have been discharged for not taking a COVID-19 vaccine at a time when the Army alone missed its annual recruitment goal by 25 percent – the worst miss ever.

According to the document, the Pentagon does not believe the Covid-19 vaccine mandate hurt recruiting efforts.

“Our data and analysis does not indicate a direct correlation between the COVID-19 vaccination requirement and our current recruiting challenges,” the document states. “Eligible youth who are not inclined to serve cite a number of issues including the possibility of physical injury, possibility of emotional/psychological harm, having to leave family and friends, and other career interests, to include attending college.”