A group of Republican lawmakers led by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) unveiled a bill on Feb. 8 that would reinstate troops fired for not complying with the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The Service Restoration Act (pdf) would “ensure that American servicemen and women in uniform are not fired for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine and that those already fired can return to military service,” a release from the Republican’s office said.
Roy’s office noted that hundreds of “battle-ready service members” have been separated from the Armed Forces as a result of the mandate, which was announced by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in August 2021.
“Worse, the Department of Defense (DOD) has denied many medical and religious exemptions, which has resulted in forcing service members to choose either their faith or livelihoods,” it said.
The bill would prohibit federal funds from being used to require a member of the Armed Forces to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and would require Austin to reinstate members of the Armed Forces who wish to return to duty at the same rank.
It would also ensure that Austin counts the service members’ time separated from the military toward their retirement benefits, and expunge from the service members’ record any adverse action due to refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Co-sponsors to the bill include Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.), Michael Cloud (R-Texas), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Van Taylor (R-Texas), Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), and Bob Good (R-Va.).
“Because of President [Joe] Biden’s power-hungry, anti-science COVID-19 vaccine mandate, hundreds of valuable American service members are being forced out of our military, taking with them years of subject-matter expertise, careers of selfless sacrifice, and lifelong dreams of military service. This is strategically foolish, profoundly unamerican, and completely unacceptable,”Roy said in a statement on the legislation.
The lawmaker added, “I introduced the Service Restoration Act to ensure that the brave men and women of our armed forces are not fired over this wrong-headed mandate—whether it be for a medical, religious, conscientious or any reason—and that those already dismissed are able to get back to honorably serving their country with their time of service and their records rightfully restored.”