Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) called the military’s religious accommodation process for the coronavirus vaccine mandate a “sham” after the Marine Corps revealed to him they only approved three accommodations, for Marines already leaving the service.
“The Biden military vaccine mandate is crushing troop morale, ending careers of honor, and destroying lives of service. Now we are learning that the process by which service members of faith seek access to religious accommodations from the vaccine mandate is a sham,” Issa said in a statement to Breitbart News on Thursday.
“The Marine Corps made clear to me that no Marine who wants to remain a Marine need apply. That’s unacceptable,” he said.
In January, Issa wrote to the Marine Corps Commandant, Gen. David Berger, asking him for detailed information on the religious accommodation process, which he said had been “scarce.”
On January 17 Issa wrote to Berger:
To date the Marine Corps has not corrected or added to the news stories but has instead declined to provide details on the apparent approved accommodations, stating: ‘Due to privacy considerations, we are unable to discuss the specifics of any individual requests.’
As a matter of fundamental fairness, the Marines still seeking accommodation – and with a history and continued desire to serve honorably – deserve basic information on the reported approved cases. They deserve to know the critical circumstances that lead to the USMC’s approval of these requests, so they too may fully consider how to include complete details involving their own unique cases.
The Marine Corps Commandant’s Deputy Legislative Assistant, J.J. Daly, responded on January 21:
At the time of this writing, three Marines have been granted religious accommodations for exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. In two cases, the Marines are on terminal leave and in the other the Marine has transitioned into the Department of Defense Skill Bridge Program, a 180-day training program in private industry. When acting on these three religious accommodation requests, the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps determined that, when weighing the compelling governmental interest, the likelihood of their vaccination status impacting military readiness and health and safety was remote because the requestors are no longer serving with Marine Corps commands.
As of February 9, 2022, there were 3,567 requests for religious accommodation, and only those three requests were approved, according to the Marine Corps.
The Marine Corps has so far discharged at least 566 Marines for not complying with the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate, issued in August.
About three percent of the active-duty Marine force is unvaccinated, and 11 percent of the Reserve force unvaccinated — or more than an estimated 9,000 Marines.
So far, nearly 1,000 service members have been discharged for not complying with the vaccine mandate, and tens of thousands more may be discharged.
Former President Donald Trump has called on Republicans to pass legislation to reinstate discharged service members if they retake control of Congress.
Earlier this week, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) introduced a bill to reinstate discharged service members and prohibit adverse action against still-serving service members who are unvaccinated, as reported first by Breitbart News.