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Military takes back soldier’s signing bonus after vax mandate discharge: Fox

A U.S. Navy Sailor receives the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Luke Cunningham)
January 24, 2023

A former U.S. Army soldier told Fox News that he was forced to pay back a signing bonus from when he was first recruited after being discharged for not following the military’s recently-lifted COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The former soldier, speaking to Fox anonymously, said he’d gotten a $7,000 bonus from his six-year Army contract. But after he was discharged in May, short of his six years, he was told he owed the government just over $4,000 from his bonus for the time he wouldn’t be serving.

He told Fox that he had to “sell” 60 unused vacation days to cover that amount, describing it as a “final kick in the face.”

“I was about to enter a new world with no income, and that extra bit would have been a nice buffer in my rainy day fund to keep me afloat until I was able to find new employment,” the former soldier told Fox.

The Pentagon did not immediately reply to an American Military News request for comment.

The military’s vaccine mandate was officially lifted earlier this month following months of political pressure, which has now shifted to whether discharged troops will be reinstated with back pay. A Pentagon spokesperson recently said the military is “not currently pursuing” back pay.

“The appalling treatment these individuals endured broke the trust that is owed to our citizens and our volunteers,” the former Army soldier said in a statement. “Until true efforts are made to establish trust, the recruiting and retention shortfalls will only continue. The individuals who make public statements that they are unsure what has contributed to the current recruiting and retention shortfalls need to take a look in the mirror; and perhaps they should resign for the betterment of our Nation.”

Some military officers said the mandate was a reason for recent low recruitment levels. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last month he hadn’t seen “any hard data” linking the mandate to recruiting troubles.