Below is a press release from Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker:
U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) recently turned their attention toward preventing President Biden from dishonorably discharging service members for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.
Wicker and Hyde-Smith have cosponsored the COVID–19 Vaccine Dishonorable Discharge Prevention Act (S.2780), which stipulates the Department of Defense may only issue honorable discharges for those servicemembers who resist orders to receive a coronavirus vaccine.
“The President has grossly miscalculated the will of the American people with his sweeping vaccine mandates. He is also threatening to create a crisis for our military at a time when China, Russia, and our other adversaries are building up their militaries,” Wicker said. “While the American people continue to fight these unconstitutional mandates, I am glad to cosponsor legislation that would protect our best and brightest and bravest on the force from having their service records tarnished for making a personal medical decision.”
“I understand the success of our Armed Forces relies on following orders, but I disagree with punitive punishments for servicemembers and their families who do not want the COVID vaccine. There is no doubt that anything other than honorable discharges would hurt whole families as rights and benefits are denied to them,” Hyde-Smith said. “President Biden and fairer minds within the Pentagon and the VA should reconsider these punishments or at least let Congress take action.”
Authored by Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), S.2780 addresses Department of Defense guidance issued in September that outlined penalties for servicemembers who refuse the vaccine, including “administrative or non-judicial punishment [under UCMJ] – to include relief of duties or discharge.”
Dishonorably discharged U.S. service members surrender a variety of rights and benefits, including:
- Ownership of any sort of firearm or ammunition
- Access to the GI Bill for further education
- VA home loans
- VA medical benefits
- Military Funeral Honors
- Re-enlistment in another military branch
While President Biden’s vaccine mandate for the military included exemptions for religious or health reasons, very few exemptions have been granted by the Navy or Air Force since the immunization push began this fall.
The Biden administration is opposing legislative efforts to stop the dishonorable discharge of unvaccinated servicemembers.