Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., says he's fighting back against military leaders "bullying" service members into receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
Marshall, who spent seven years in the Army Reserve, told Fox News he was disgusted by the White House's decision to penalize service members who refuse to comply with the vaccine mandate, with penalties including possible discharge from the service.
"What really lit my fire was when I heard the White House say, we want them to have a dishonorable discharge," Marshall, who introduced the COVID-19 Dishonorable Discharge Prevention Act, told Fox News.
"So, next week is Veterans Day. We're honoring them this week [because] the president of the United States is dishonoring our military members."
Marshall added he dislikes the way military officials have gone about trying to get service members vaccinated.
"I would use the term bullying, you know, the military has its ways," Marshall, whose father and brother served in the military, told Fox News.
"So, I get it. They're able to bully people, if they want you to do something and they're able to but its peer pressure plus. And you know, it works."
In a release on his website, Marshall said that "getting a dishonorable discharge may be the worst checkmark you can get in your life."
"These sort of repercussions sound like they should be reserved for felons," he said.
Marshall, a physician, said the vaccines have saved lives and trying to get servive members vaccinated is "an important effort."
However, he said each person should make his or her own decision on whether to receive the vaccine.
"Deep down inside I’m still this rural doctor from Great Bend, Kansas, and I believe in the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship, and that every one of our situations is unique," Marshall said.
"A soldier’s clinical history is unique. There are pros and cons – there are risks and benefits of this vaccine. And each of our soldiers all are using common sense, and I respect their decisions. This administration should too."
Fox News reported Marshall was joined by Sens. Rick Scott, R-Fla., Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., at a Thursday morning press conference to discuss the COVID-19 Discharge Prevention Act, which is an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.
First Liberty Institute general counsel Mike Berry also attended the press conference. He represented 40 active-duty Navy SEALs seeking religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate.
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