Lawmakers are exerting pressure on the Department of Defense to provide back pay to the more than 8,000 troops who were fired for refusing to get the
Lawmakers are exerting pressure on the Department of Defense to provide back pay to the more than 8,000 troops who were fired for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The department previously signaled that it is currently ‘exploring’ ways to reinstate compensation and other benefits to the US soldiers who were dismissed from serving because of the mandate.
In December, President Joe Biden signed the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, which included a measure that repeals the military’s vaccine mandate.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also recently signed a memo that will update records of soldiers who received reprimands for attempting to get themselves exempt from the vaccine mandate but were denied.
Close to 8,400 members of the armed services were dismissed for failing to receive the vax
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is being petitioned to figure out a way to provide back pay to the military men and women who were dismissed for failing to get vaccinated
Though a leaked DoD public affairs guidance document indicated that, while the military ended the vaccine mandate, the Pentagon does not have any plans to reinstate the thousands of service member who were fired.
The document said: ‘All Service members and Veterans may apply at any time to the appropriate Discharge Review Board or Board for Correction for Military/Naval Records if they believe that there is an error or injustice in their records.’
It also acknowledged that ‘some members of Congress have indicated they will look next year to support ways to reinstate or provide back pay for Service members who were dismissed for refusing to take the vaccine.’
‘The Department will provide its views on legislation of this nature at the appropriate time and through the appropriate process,’ it continued.
One of said members of Congress is Michael Waltz, a Florida Republican, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee.
He told Fox that if the Pentagon fails to establish some sort of backpay system for the troops who were dismissed as a result of the vaccine mandate, he will add language to the 2024 NDAA that provides it.
‘If the Pentagon does not provide backpay and restore full benefits for those who were discharged and request to be reinstated, we in Congress must act by adding language in the next NDAA to do so.
‘We have an obligation to these service members,’ he said.
Preventative Medicine Services NCOIC Sergeant First Class Demetrius Roberson administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a soldier on September 9, 2021 in Fort Knox, Kentucky
Rep. Michael Waltz, a Florida Republican, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee said there is ‘an obligation to these service members’ to fight for back pay
Sens. Cruz (left) and Lankford (right) are also pushing the administration and Pentagon to get back pay for the military members dismissed because of the mandate
Senator Marsha Blackburn said Republicans on the Armed Services Committee have put forth legislation that would establish back pay and benefits for the 8,400 fired soldiers
Kansas Senator Roger Marshall argued that back pay should have been included in the 2023 NDAA and said he would continue pushing the Biden administration on the issue.
He said: ‘This should have been done on the Senate Floor during the consideration of NDAA, but 54 of my colleagues opposed doing so. I can on DoD, Secretary Austin, and President Biden to move on providing back pay at once.’
Fox reported that an aide said the senator is evaluating ways to respond to the Defense Department dragging its feet on the back pay process.
On the Senate Armed Services Committee, Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn said she and Texas Senator Ted Cruz ‘have legislation to ensure our brave men and women that were fired due to Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate receive back pay and benefits.’
Senator James Lankford also wrote a letter to Secretary Austin in December demanding that DoD provide back pay for terminated servicemen and women.
‘We urge you to establish a quick and thorough process so all members who were discharged because they refused the COVID-19 vaccine can be reinstated with back pay and full benefits. Doing so would provide the clarity and stability American service members and their families deserve,’ read Lankford’s letter that was also signed by a handful of Republicans.
In late 2022, Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi wrote a letter to the president asking for his position on the mandate (before its repeal) and asking for information about how the Pentagon was approaching the question of reinstating service members who were fired because of their refusal to take the vaccine.
Former VP Pence said it was ‘unconscionable that the Biden administration mandated the vaccine on members of the armed forces,’ but a mere rollback is not enough
In a recent interview with The Hill, former Vice President Mike Pence, who is widely speculated to be preparing to mount a run for high office in 2024, said he too believes a back pay system, at very least, is what military members dismissed over the vaccine mandate deserve.
‘I think it was unconscionable that the Biden administration mandated the vaccine on members of the armed forces of the United States, and I celebrate Congress’s recent decision to rescind that mandate, but that doesn’t go far enough,’ he said.
He continued: ‘I think now that Secretary Austin has implemented what Congress passed into law, lifting the vaccine mandate on members of our armed forces, now I’m calling on the Biden administration and the Pentagon to reinstate every man and woman that was discharged from our armed forces because they refused to take the vaccine, and give them 100 percent back pay for the time after they were discharged.’
The vast majority of military members did ultimately receive the vaccine, but the roughly 8,400 who were fired for refusing to do so may have lost anywhere between an estimated $10,000-$43,000 in pay since this summer, when the deadline to receive a vaccination passed.