On Wednesday, U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Rick Scott (R-FL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mike Braun (R-IN), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Steve Daines (R-MT), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and Josh Hawley (R-MO) sent a letter to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican Whip John Thune, Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso, and Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman Roy Blunt expressing opposition to moving forward with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023, unless the Senate votes on an amendment to prohibit discharges from the Armed Forces solely because of COVID-19 vaccination status. The amendment will also reinstate service members already discharged, with back pay.
“The Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccine mandate has ruined the livelihoods of men and women who have honorably served our country…While the Department of Defense certainly must make decisions that will bolster military readiness, the effects of the mandate are antithetical to readiness of our force, and the policy must be revoked,” the Senators wrote. “The United States simply cannot afford to discharge our brave men and women in uniform and lose the investments we have made into each and every one of them due to an inept bureaucratic policy…We respectfully request that the Senate vote to remedy a policy that adversely affects our service members and our national security.”
About 3,400 troops have been discharged from the military since April 2022 because they refused the COVID-19 shot. The Army estimates it spends $15,000 in recruiting costs to bring someone into the service and another $50,000-$75,000 to prepare them to join their first unit.
The military is also facing challenges with recruitment currently. Recruitment is reportedly down 23 percent from annual targets. With the costs and recruiting challenges, losing thousands of troops due to their vaccination status is cause for concern when it comes to military readiness.