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Congresswoman Lauren Boebert led an effort supported by seventeen Members of Congress to Joe Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Linda Fagan urging the Coast Guard to allow America’s heroes that request religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates to continue to serve this great country.

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert stated, “Petty Officer Second Class Zach Loesch is an American hero, and he deserves to be treated as such. Due to the vaccine mandate, his rescue mission responding to Hurricane Ian may be his last, as he is set to be involuntarily discharged in 30 to 60 days. The federal government’s failure to respect religious freedom and allow these exemptions is causing the military to lose talented individuals like Petty Officer Loesch. It’s time to end these mandates and support our troops’ religious freedom!”

Petty Officer Second Class Zach Loesch said, “If I had asked any of the people I saved yesterday if they wanted to come with me even though I am unvaccinated, every single one of them would have said ‘yes.’ It just sucks that [Biden] thanked me yet the vaccine mandate is what’s kicking me out. I just love my job, and I’m really good at it. It sucks. I feel like this is the job that I was born to do.”

President Joe Biden publicized a phone call he had with Loesch in which he thanked him for his actions. While Loesch said he appreciates the recognition, he continues to face involuntary discharge over his refusal to take the COVID shot.

Boebert, along with 17 other members of Congress, sent a congressional oversight letter to Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas and the Commandant of the Coast Guard urging reconsideration of the Coast Guard’s policy denying over 99 percent of religious exemptions from the shot mandate.

The full text Congresswoman Boebert’s letter is available here and below:

Dear President Biden, Secretary Mayorkas, and Admiral Fagan:

We write to urge your reconsideration of the United States Coast Guard’s (USCG) policy regarding religious exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccination order.

As you know, USCG servicemembers are expected to follow the Defense Department’s COVID-19 vaccination order requiring all servicemembers to receive an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine. Servicemembers that have not obtained a COVID-19 vaccine risk an involuntary administrative separation. This policy has resulted in hundreds of servicemembers from all branches getting involuntarily discharged.

On September 30, 2022, the White House released a readout of the phone call with Aviation Survival Technician Second Class Zach Loesch. During this call, President Biden recognized Petty Officer Second Class Loesch’s heroic actions in saving a wheelchair-bound woman and her husband during a search and rescue mission following Hurricane Ian.

While the commander-in-chief has recognized Petty Officer Second Class Loesch’s outstanding bravery, Mr. Loesch is expecting to be involuntarily discharged for not receiving a COVID-19 vaccination despite requesting a religious exemption.

To date, USCG has received over 1,200 religious exemption requests and has only accepted 12, amounting to a 99% denial rate. This blanket denial of religious accommodation is a clear violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). While this administration chooses to prioritize the USCG’s new focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, it is also denying servicemembers their most fundamental First Amendment right: the free exercise of religious belief.

Considering Joe Biden’s own admission that “the pandemic is over”, these mandates are completely unnecessary and are not supported by anything resembling a scientific justification.  On August 12, 2022, the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) updated guidance removes the distinction between unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals exposed to COVID-19; the guidance also states that the COVID-19 vaccine does not prevent transmission or contraction.

If the USCG continues to enforce its unnecessary and unconstitutional vaccine mandates, talent like Petty Officer Second Class Loesch will be lost. We urge you to reconsider USCG’s position regarding the denial of religious exemption requests and allow these heroes to serve this great country.


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