Republican Sen. Roger Marshall (KS) will introduce an amendment on Wednesday that would prohibit the Pentagon from giving service members a dishonorable discharge for choosing not to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
“Unfortunately, thousands of our heroes are about to lose the very freedoms that they have fought so hard to defend as Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate is threatening them with a dishonorable discharge should they choose to not get the COVID vaccine,” Marshall said in a statement.
“Getting a dishonorable discharge may be the worst checkmark you can get in your life. There is no question about it: American heroes should not be treated as felons because of their personal medical choices,” he said.
Marshall’s legislation comes amid resistance among service members to taking the vaccine, which was mandated by the Biden administration for all members of the military in addition to millions of other Americans. Service members have only weeks before they have to meet the deadline.
The Biden administration has expressed opposition to taking dishonorable discharges off the table for service members who choose not to get the vaccine.
The White House on September 21 said in a statement that doing so would “detract from readiness and limit a commander’s options for enforcing good order and discipline.”
“To enable a uniformed force to fight with discipline, commanders must have the ability to give orders and take appropriate disciplinary measures,” the White House statement said.
Service members who are dishonorably discharged surrender the right to own any sort of firearm or ammunition, access the GI Bill for further education, access VA home loans and medical benefits, have military funeral honors, or be able to re-enlist in another military branch. Dishonorable discharges may also pose difficulties to service members when they seek future civilian employment.
Marshall will speak about the amendment at a press conference on Thursday along with fellow Republican Sens. Kevin Cramer (ND), Roger Wicker (MS), Ron Johnson (WI), Rick Scott (FL) and Marine reservist and First Liberty General Counsel Mike Berry. Berry is representing 36 Navy SEALs who are fighting the vaccine mandate.
Marshall will propose the amendment during consideration of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is yearly must-pass defense legislation that authorizes activities and spending for the Pentagon in fiscal year 2022.
Marshall also criticized Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Democrats for not bringing the NDAA for a vote on the Senate floor yet, so that it could be passed and conferenced with the House version, passed by both chambers of Congress, and signed into law.
He said the potential dishonorable discharge of troops over President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate is “one of several highly important issues that Leader Schumer and our colleagues across the aisle have put on hold while they go back and forth on how to spend taxpayers’ money on their radical agenda instead of finalizing the NDAA.
“Our troops deserve better, and I am calling on Leader Schumer to bring the NDAA to the floor so we can ensure American heroes are not treated as felons because of their personal medical choices,” he said.