Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) on Friday introduced a bill that would reinstate troops discharged over the Biden administration’s ill-fated military coronavirus vaccine mandate and protect unvaccinated troops, cadets, and midshipmen from punishment, Breitbart News has first learned.
Roy said in a statement:
Thanks to the hard work of many of my Republican colleagues, the Biden administration’s disastrous COVID-19 vaccine mandate was finally ended. But there is more work to be done. Republicans must fight to permanently end these mandates and make whole all the service members harmed by President Biden’s senseless policies. I’ve introduced the Service Restoration Act to do just that.
Roy’s bill, titled the Service Restoration Act, would prohibit any federal funds being used to require a member of the military or a cadet or midshipman at a service academy to receive a vaccine, and would prohibit any “adverse action” against them solely on the basis of not wanting to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The bill defines “adverse action” as including involuntary separation, demotion, discipline, retaliation, disparate treatment, a requirement to wear a mask, residing in sub-standard housing, or enduring sub-standard conditions, travel restrictions, and deployment restrictions.
The bill would also reinstate troops discharged over the Biden administration’s now-repealed vaccine mandate at their former rank and pay at the time they were discharged and expunge from their records any reference to adverse actions taken against them based on their refusal to be vaccinated.
Furthermore, the bill would upgrade the characterizations of those discharged over the mandate to “honorable,” which would allow them to receive certain veterans benefits they would not receive with a lesser characterization, such as GI Bill benefits.
Although Republicans forced the Biden administration to rescind its vaccine mandate order, the Pentagon had left open the ability of commanders to take actions against troops based solely on their vaccination status, as previously reported by Breitbart News.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin released a memo this month that rescinded the mandate, but it allowed commanders to “consider, as appropriate, the individual immunization status of personnel in making deployment, assignment, and other operational decisions, including when vaccination is required for travel to, or entry into, a foreign nation.”
Given data that vaccination is not needed, and potentially damaging, for the young and healthy, the military must stop punishing our servicemen and women.
— Patricia Morgan (@repmorgan) January 15, 2023
It also left the possibility of troops being separated from the military who did not apply for some sort of exemption — religious, medical, or administrative.
It said, “No individuals currently serving in the Armed Forces shall be separated solely on the basis of their refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccination if they sought an accommodation on religious, administrative, or medical grounds.”
According to a recent report from Just the News, service members were still facing punishments and repercussions despite the end of the vaccine mandate.
Military attorney R. Davis Younts told the outlet that unvaccinated reservists who were involuntarily transferred into the Non-Participating Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) still cannot participate in drills; receive military orders, pay, or retirement; and are ineligible for military healthcare and other benefits. He said reservists have two years to get back into active drilling status before they are forced to leave the military.
In addition, although adverse actions will be removed from service members’ files, that does not mean they will receive the same jobs back they lost due to their vaccination status.
“Taking a letter of reprimand or adverse action out of a file doesn’t address that they were relieved of command for cause,” Younts told the outlet. He said their relief still leaves them ineligible for promotions, essentially derailing their careers. This “applies to thousands of military members.”
The lawyer also said there are “ongoing coercive tactics” that the military is using against unvaccinated members. He cited one case of a Navy officer not being allowed to leave his aircraft carrier for eight and a half months, while others were allowed to disembark.
“We need to act and for Congress to do more,” Younts told Just the News. “We can’t trust the DOD and the secretaries of the services to change their position and go from being hostile and aggressive towards Christians fighting the mandate and suddenly completely change. I expect coercion, legal issues, rights violations, and pushing people to board of corrections. It’s tough.”