At least one branch of the U.S. military is doing an about-face when it comes to vaccine refusal and recruitment. Amid historically low recruitment and continually low morale, the Army is attempting to lure back soldiers it once discharged for their refusal to receive the COVID-19 shot. Few were concerned at the time about what it would mean to kick out thousands of troops and push others toward taking early retirement or choosing simply not to re-enlist.
According to Task and Purpose, a military blog, the Army has sent a letter to approximately 1,900 soldiers discharged for vax refusal offering a mea culpa, of sorts:
Soldiers who were forced out of the Army for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine have received letters with instructions on how to rejoin, as the service faces its toughest recruiting environment in a generation.
“As a result of the rescission of all current COVID-19 vaccination requirements, former soldiers who were involuntarily separated for their refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccination may request a correction of their military records,” according to a letter signed by Brig. Gen. Hope Rampy, Army Director of Personnel Management.
It also instructs soldiers looking to return to service to contact an Army, Army Reserve, or National Guard recruiter. It was not immediately clear to an Army spokesperson if soldiers who rejoin would return to their former unit or MOS.
The letter, circulated on social media and confirmed by the Army as authentic to Task & Purpose outlines the steps soldiers can take to correct their military records through the Army Discharge Review Board or the Army Board for Correction of Military Records.
It’s a win for many but could be too little, too late. These soldiers were harassed, embarrassed, threatened, and eventually fired from the military for refusing to participate in an experimental vaccine. They lost a career track in many cases and went through months of hardship. It seems incumbent upon the Pentagon to offer them more than a clean record and maybe access to their previous post but with no guarantees.
The Pentagon keeps dangling talk of back pay but hasn’t come through in any meaningful way:
Earlier this year the Defense Department suggested that 8,400 servicemembers separated for vaccine refusal might be eligible for backpay, but officials walked back that statement in January.
Essentially, providing back pay would be an admission that the federal government had done something wrong. If they go that route, it might open up an avenue for wrongful termination lawsuits or other civil litigation that could wind up with millions of dollars in legal damages well beyond the back pay figures.
Whatever the number is, providing back pay for a few thousand soldiers is a pittance compared to the amount the federal government is spending on propping up Ukraine.
Democrats keep playing the “military readiness” card against Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville for holding up military nominations over a Pentagon policy refunding travel costs for servicemembers who to seek abortions out of their home state. However, not a single care or concern was offered when thousands of service members were unceremoniously drummed out of service for refusing to take a shot for an illness most of them had already had.
Those who now feign fake outrage over military readiness or dare to say they support the troops were nowhere to be found during the height of COVID-19 hysteria when soldiers were being cajoled into taking a shot or losing their jobs.
It’s only now, as recruitment numbers struggle, that these undesirable soldiers are suddenly desirable again.