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House Panel Aims To Rehire Troops Fired for Refusing COVID Shot

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Reprinted from Liberty Council:

Earlier in May, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) adopted an amendment to the annual defense spending bill which would require the Pentagon to rehire service members who were fired for refusing the COVID-19 shot. The measure would have the Pentagon create a strategy to recruit from the pool of thousands of fired troops and report to Congress any reinstatements.

The HASC voted 57-1 to advance its version of the $883.7 billion bill, titled the 2025 Servicemember Quality of Life Improvement and National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The entire bill, including the amendment to rehire fired troops, will now progress to the Senate Armed Services Committee for further debate before it heads to the full Congress for a final vote.

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According to Representative Nancy Mace (R-SC), one of the amendment’s sponsors, the measure rectifies an “ill-advised policy” that turned thousands of soldiers into “veterans overnight.”

Under its COVID shot mandate, the Department of Defense uniformly denied most of the 36,500 religious accommodation requests it received from troops to abstain from the experimental shot and involuntarily discharged more than 8,300 service members for refusing to take it.

The amendment comes after senior Pentagon officials testified before Congress in December 2023 that the military services fell short of their 2023 recruiting goals by 41,000 recruits. The officials attributed the recruiting shortfalls to a “smaller eligible population,” younger generations having “low trust” in institutions, and fewer families recommending military service.

Rep. Mace stated the fired service members “already have training that our military desperately needs.”

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Congress had previously ended the Pentagon’s COVID-19 shot mandate in the 2023 NDAA and then directed it to consider reinstating discharged service members who had refused the COVID shot in the 2024 NDAA. On April 30, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told the HASC Panel that he had no knowledge of any efforts to recruit troops discharged under the shot mandate. However, the U.S. Army sent a letter to fired soldiers in November 2023 stating they could “apply” to rejoin with their local recruiter. According to Pentagon data from October 2023, only 43 service members discharged for refusing the COVID shot have rejoined out of the 8,300 discharged.

Liberty Counsel litigated against the Pentagon’s COVID-19 shot mandate in Navy SEAL 1 v. Austin and Colonel Financial Management Officer, et al. v. Austin, and obtained multiple restraining orders and injunctions, including a class-wide injunction, which contributed to the 2023 NDAA requiring the Pentagon to rescind its mandate. In October 2023, the Pentagon signed a $1.8 million settlement with Liberty Counsel covering the attorney’s fees and costs during the two years of litigation on behalf of many affected service members.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Even though the Pentagon’s unlawful COVID shot mandate is dead, the disastrous consequences have seriously degraded our military. The mandate unjustly purged many qualified people from military service at a time when America needs a strong military. The Pentagon needs to take responsibility for its costly mistake of forcing service members to choose between their religious convictions and their career.”

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