John Rutherford: Time to Reinstate Servicemembers Discharged for Not Getting COVID Vaccine

This week, U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., showcased his proposal “to require the Secretary of Defense to swiftly reinstate all servicemembers discharged for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine after requesting an exemption during the Department of Defense’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.”

Rutherford introduced the “Reinstate Our Troops Act” last week.

“Congress rescinded the DoD’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate last year, but for servicemembers who requested an exemption and were still discharged under the mandate, the process to continue their service is arduous,” said Rutherford. “For servicemembers discharged for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, my Reinstate Our Troops Act streamlines the pathway to return to military service without suffering further financial or professional loss.”

The Northeast Florida congressman’s offered some of the reasons behind the proposal.

“According to the military branches, over 8,000 servicemembers have been involuntarily discharged because of their vaccination status. Servicemembers seeking to rejoin must petition their board of corrections or request a waiver before they are allowed to apply for reinstatement. This process is onerous and offers no guarantee to servicemembers that they will be able to rejoin the military once their petition is reviewed,” Rutherford’s office noted. “The Reinstate Our Troops Act streamlines the reinstatement process by ensuring each branch of our military: reinstates separated servicemembers, who sought a medical, religious, or administrative exemption, at their previously held paygrades; ensures their previous discharge is upgraded to honorable; honors all bonuses that were withheld or recouped due to discharge; and expunges their records of any disciplinary language related to the COVID-19 vaccine.”

More than two dozen House Republicans co-sponsored the bill, including Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Aaron Bean, Gus Bilirakis, Mario Diaz-Balart, Scott Franklin, Bill Posey and Dan Webster.

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Armed Services Committee. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.

Kevin Derby
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