The version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed by the Senate includes an amendment that prohibits the dishonorable discharge of military personnel for declining to take a COVID-19 vaccination. Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), who served in the Army as a physician, introduced the amendment to the military funding and authorization bill.
Marshall said in a press statement that the amendment was added to prohibit Joe Biden from deciding to dishonorably discharge any service members who are separated for not getting the experimental drug jab. He noted that a dishonorable discharge “treats our heroes as felons.”
The measure was added in specific response to the August decision announced by the Pentagon that all service members would be mandated to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin instructed all military departments to “impose ambitious timelines” for the complete immunization of all members.
The vote to prohibit dishonorable discharges for refusing the vaccine follows the Air Force becoming the first branch to start discharging unvaccinated members on Monday. The Air Force terminated 27 airmen this week for refusing the shots. No public statement has been issued whether those members received a dishonorable, honorable, or general discharge.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) spoke in favor of the NDAA amendment, saying that dishonorable discharges would equate service members who served with honor with those discharged after convictions for “serious crimes such as treason, desertion, sexual assault, and murder.”
Proponents of the military vaccine mandates have noted the long history of mandatory vaccines for service members. However, all previously ordered vaccines were subjected to complete evaluation and testing before being implemented in the general military population.
The military vaccine mandate is the only of Biden’s vaccine orders that federal courts have not peremptorily blocked. The mandates for health care workers and private companies employing 100 or more workers have been put on hold by several federal district and appeals courts as the cases wind their way toward the Supreme Court.