Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., told Newsmax Tuesday that military personnel will not get a dishonorable discharge if they are removed from the service because of not getting the mandated COVID vaccination, thanks to an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2022, which is expected to pass the Senate.
“We were able to get (the amendment) into the base text of the bill,” Marshall said during “Spicer & Co.” Tuesday. “After some back and forth, we’ve been anticipating this day, as you mentioned 27 airmen were released from the U.S. Air Force today (for not being vaccinated against COVID), we wanted to make sure that they did not get a dishonorable discharge.”
According to the Washington Post, the 27 dismissals are apparently the first in the military for personnel that have not received the mandated COVID-19 vaccinations.
While the Air Force reports a vaccination rate of 94%, there are still “tens of thousands” that have refused to get vaccinated, according to the report.
The Air Force had the earliest deadline on Nov. 2, but the Pentagon estimates that about 40,000 military personnel have declined vaccinations, and are facing separation from their respective service branches, the Post reported.
Marshall said the mandates, imposed by the administration of President Joe Biden are “unconstitutional,” and while he personally thinks people should get vaccinated in consultation with their doctors, he does not believe in mandates. The senator said he is against dishonorable discharges for military members who refuse to get vaccinated.
“I couldn't think of a worse mark on your resume than a dishonorable discharge. It really keeps you from getting a job for the most part,” Marshall said. “In so many ways, that treats you like a felon and may keep you from voting in some states. You lose your second amendment; you'll lose your veterans benefits for education, and for health care. I'm very much against any type of vaccine mandate, but if this White House is going to separate soldiers because of this, we want to make sure they don't have a dishonorable discharge.”
Ther Senate voted to end debate on its version of the NDAA 86-13 Tuesday, including Marshall’s amendment, which Biden plans on signing into law once it is finally passed, Roll Call reported.
“While the process has been imperfect, I'm glad that bipartisan work has produced a bill that authorizes an increase in topline funding for our national defense,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.
Marshall said that he supports vaccinations, but they should be an individual’s decision with the consultation with their own doctor.
“Each patient is unique,” he said. “I believe in the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship. My parents, senior citizens, they probably would benefit from the booster, but my grandchildren, who have already had COVID, do they need the vaccine, or do they need the vaccine at all over a booster? So, let your doctor and you decide what to do.”
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