Soldier Receives Covid Vaccine

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After the Republicans used the passage of defense legislation last month as a means to force Democrats to drop the mandatory Covid-19 vaccine for all military personnel, the Pentagon released a memo from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Tuesday evening that formally repealed the mandate.

Austin’s memo rescinds the mandate for active duty, the National Guard, and the Reserves.

The repeal comes after an order from Austin on August 24, 2021, in which he mandated that all military personnel be full-vaccinated or be discharged from military duty.

Prior to the lifting of the mandate, some 8,400 troops were discharged, with tens of thousands applying for accommodation requests, including for medical, administrative, or religious reasons. Tens of thousands of reservists, allegedly up to 60,000, remained unvaccinated and were set to be discharged as well. The mass discharges came as the military has faced a serious recruiting crisis in recent years.

In an escalation of the battle between the military and leadership, forces successfully sued to temporarily enjoin the Navy, Air Force, and Marines from taking action against individuals who had applied for religious accommodations. The inspector general for the Pentagon also sent a memo to Austin indicating that blanket denials of religious accommodation requests flirted with breaking the law.

Some troops took a different tactic and fought the mandate on the basis that the DOD can only mandate FDA-approved vaccines, which some of the Covid vaccines at the time were not. The claim argued that the military was using a form of the vaccine that was under the Emergency Use Authorization provision and not FDA pre-approved. Then-DOD official, Terri Adirim, replied in another memo the two vaccines were interchangeable.

Despite the repeated challenges from troops and the massive loss of forces, the Biden administration refused to back down and reverse the mandate until House and Senate Republicans used the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes defense spending, to strong-arm the administration into repealing the mandate. In a statement released in conjunction with Austin’s memo, the Pentagon said, “This recession requirement was established by the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023.”

The Pentagon’s statement continued, “The health and readiness of the Force are crucial to the Department’s ability to defend our nation. Secretary Austin continues to encourage all Service members, civilian employees, and contractor personnel to get vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 to ensure Total Force readiness.”

Austin’s memo stated, “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.”

The memo went on to clarify that the military would also remove adverse actions that were solely associated with denials of accommodation requests for troops, including any letters of reprimand, which could be career-ending.

The memo also noted that the military would stop any current reviews of accommodation requests for service members.

The correspondence did include a section indicating that the DOD would still take action against unvaccinated troops saying, “Other standing Departmental policies, procedures, and processes regarding immunization remain in effect. These include the ability of 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.”

Austin concluded his memo by noting that the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness would be issuing additional guidance to “ensure uniform implementation” of the memo. Recently, the Coast Guard and Army have both issued guidance only to have it retracted hours later. It just goes to show that the military leadership has never considered any alternatives to the vaccine mandate.

Meanwhile, Republicans have vowed to fight for the reinstatement of discharged troops with backpay in 2023. The question remains though, how many discharged service members will return to a military that denied their civil liberties, attempted to silence their voices, and turned its back on them? Unfortunately, the answer is probably, too few. Austin’s memo is like Biden’s border visit – too little, too late.

STARRS Attorney Mike Rose participated in the U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham's Press Availability Today

Rescinding the mandate is an important step but does not provide remedies for those involuntarily discharged for refusing the vaccine.”

— Lt Gen Rod Bishop (USAF, retired), Chairman of STARRSCOLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO, UNITED STATES, December 9, 2022 / -- Congress is moving forward with bipartisan support for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which includes language to rescind the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The President of the United States—America’s Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces—and the Secretary of Defense have already made their opposition to this move public.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) held a press availability today to discuss the support for the COVID vaccine mandate for service members or recruits. STARRS Attorney. Mike Rose from Charleston, South Carolina, participated in the media availability.

Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services, Inc. (STARRS) has been one advocate for this move for nearly a year. Lt Gen Rod Bishop (USAF, retired) led the effort to alert Congress to legal, health, and safety violations of First Amendment concerns.

Dr. Ron Scott (Colonel, USAF, retired), President of STARRS, said that STARRS leaders support the plethora of vaccines already in use for worldwide deployability and are fully vaccinated for covid. “Concerned military members also reached out to STARRS with concerns about the religious accommodation process,” said Scott.

Gen Bishop said, “Rescinding the mandate is an important step but does not provide remedies for those involuntarily discharged for refusing the vaccine.”

STARRS has already reached out to Service Academy Superintendents (with no response to date) to encourage their leadership in advancing remedies for cadets and midshipmen adversely affected. (See open letter to military academy leadership).

“This was an important effort to bring ‘healing’ to the rank and file where retention and recruiting numbers are abysmal.” Said Scott.

In terms of the “human cost” and sense of betrayal involved, Mike Rose, STARRS’s General Counsel, asserted, “This is about DoD’s apparently willful disregard of the law (not just any law, the First Amendment and a federal statute designed to protect it) to pursue a policy objective and vindicate earlier decisions that evolving evidence showed had been erroneously predicated (i.e., face-saving).”

“Of all government agencies, one should expect the Defense Department to be among those that scrupulously observe and defend the Rule of Law, starting with leading by example,” he said. “Unfortunately, that did not happen here, and it’s partly because DoD acts as if the Constitution must yield whenever they think it should suit their policy positions, notwithstanding their oaths to ‘bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution."

Major General Joe Arbuckle (USA, retired), Vice Chairman of STARRS, assembled notional remedies that could be the right step to the healing process. Recommended priorities include:

a. Immediate reinstatement at the last rank held to active duty, reserve, and national guard status plus reentry for those expelled from the academies.

b. Reimbursement of lost pay and benefits to include seniority lost for all favorable personnel actions like promotion eligibility and schooling.

c. Expunge military records for all personnel of any negative action taken based on a refusal to take the vax, and this includes honorable discharges for those deciding not to return to active duty.

d. For those with 15 or more years of service who chose not to return to active duty, grant them retirement benefits.

Gen Arbuckle argues that it is time to focus on religious exemptions being denied because when peeling that onion back, it reveals Critical Race Theory/Marxism at its core. He cites the following to support his contention:

a. When Secretary Austin testified during his senate confirmation hearings, he pledged to rid the ranks of racists and extremists. He then did a stand down for the entire Department of Defense (DOD) “witch hunt” for extremists and found less than 100 in all DOD.

b. Republicans were able to remove provisions in the NDAA requiring the Services to report on actions taken to eliminate neo-Nazis and white supremacists. That sends a clear signal that the intent of the NDAA was to continue the “extremist” witch hunt in the DOD.

c. In a closed-door session with the top Air Force generals, it is reported that the SECAF allegedly (according to a whistleblower) said there would be no religious exemptions (consistent with Marxism’s anti-religious perspective).

d. The political culture on the left sees those who are religious enough to sacrifice their careers and retirement based on religious reasons as being “extremists” and perhaps MAGA supporters. “Moreover, a high percentage of military recruits come from red states, typically in the South, where religion and traditional values are likely seen by the left as MAGA and, therefore, extreme,” Scott said.

Scott is encouraged by the current development but says much more needs to be done to stem the ideological indoctrination taking place in our military. “STARRS encourages veterans and citizens to join our cause and to consider helping us at STARRS.US, but other advocacy groups as well, such as Truth for Health Foundation, the Center for Military Readiness, and Liberty First,” he said.

Established in Spring 2021, STARRS is a 501(c)3 approved organization that primarily provides educational information, assistance, and materials related to racism and radicalism in the military. [Note: radicalism in the organization's title is based on Michigan State University's definition: "the beliefs or actions of individuals, groups, or organizations who advocate for thorough or complete social and political reform to achieve an alternative vision of American society."] The public can learn more about STARRS, its mission, and how they can help at

+1 719-651-5943
email us here

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