Republicans slammed President Joe Biden for praising a Coast Guard rescue swimmer who is facing discharge from the military because of Biden’s own vaccine mandate for the armed forces.
Biden had called Aviation Survival Technician Second Class Zach Loesch on Friday to thank him and his fellow Coasties for saving the lives of Floridians suffering from Hurricane Ian wreckage.
The president boasted about the call afterwards and the White House put out a press statement on the exchange between the two.
However, as reported by Breitbart News, Loesch is due to be kicked out of the Coast Guard within 30-60 days for being unvaccinated, given the Biden administration’s August 2021 military vaccine mandate.
“Zach Loesch was deployed by the Coast Guard to rescue stranded Floridans but is still being kicked out over [a] vaccine. Biden’s mandate must end!” Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL), a National Guard Green Beret colonel, tweeted Sunday.
Loesch told Breitbart News in an interview on Saturday that he has applied for religious exemption from the mandate but his request, as well as an appeal, were both denied. Now Loesch, as well as other unvaccinated Coast Guard rescue swimmers, are due to be kicked out amid hurricane season. Loesch said the Coast Guard in the affected areas is already drawing on rescue swimmers from other states to help with rescue efforts.
Loesch has been a rescue swimmer for six years. On Friday, he personally pulled out a disabled woman and her husband from their back bedroom that had a doorway jammed with a couch.
The rescuer kicked through a wall to pull them both out, and then later went back to retrieve her specialized wheelchair, strapping it to his body as he was hoisted by a helicopter.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) tweeted, “Joe Biden said it himself — COVID is over. Yet, he is still firing our brave men and women who serve our nation, like Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer Zach Loesch. Zach kicked through a wall to save an elderly couple trapped due to Hurricane Ian.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s press secretary Bryan Griffin tweeted: “The Florida State Guard has no vaccine mandate and is accepting applications.”
Retired Army Special Forces Chief Warrant Officer Three Joe Kent, a House candidate for Washington State, tweeted: “Biden is destroying our military’s readiness & the lives of our heros. The pandemic is over, end the emergency order, lift the mandate & bring those kicked out back into the service (with back pay).”
The Biden administration has indicated it does not plan to lift the vaccine mandate imposed on all members of the military. So far, nearly 8,000 service members have been kicked out of the military due to the mandate, in the midst of a recruiting crisis.
There are still tens of thousands more service members who are unvaccinated, including those waiting for religious exemption requests to be adjudicated.
There are also legal questions as to whether the mandate is lawful, as reported by Breitbart News.
By law, the defense secretary can only mandate a vaccine that is FDA-approved, unless he seeks a presidential waiver. To date, Biden has not issued the waiver and the Department of Defense has administering a vaccine to troops that is under Emergency Use Authorization, not approved by the FDA.
The FDA-approved vaccine, known as Comirnaty, has not been widely available in the United States, let alone to service members.
Breitbart News reported last week that the DOD considered in October 2021 allowing troops to wait for the FDA-approved vaccine before being kicked out, but ultimately opted against it. Service members have filed several lawsuits, alleging the DOD is not following the law.
Follow Breitbart News’s Kristina Wong on Twitter, Truth Social, or on Facebook.