A Republican from Tennessee revealed military personnel will be dismissed, if they refuse to be vaccinated against the deadly disease on Aug. 11.
Rep. Mark Green confirmed U.S. soldiers face honorable discharge if they do not accept the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine for any non-exempt reason. Religion and preexisting medical conditions are currently accepted as valid exemptions.
Green believes serving the nation should not mean sacrificing the right to make informed medical decisions.
“Wearing our country’s uniform does not mean our service members sign away the right to make personal medical decisions,” he said in a statement. “An individual’s health care decisions should never be mandated by the federal government.”
The congressman questioned Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s (D) recent request for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations across U.S. Forces, starting in mid-September. If the FDA does not agree, Austin will try to obtain presidential approval from Joe Biden.
“Secretary Austin’s recommendation, requiring all active-duty service members [to] receive the COVID vaccine, is an affront to the rule of law and right to privacy,” Green said. “No one is above the law, not even the secretary of defense.”
If President Biden also does not approve the vaccine mandate, the Democrat cannot lawfully force soldiers to take the jab.
“In this case, the law is clear: unless the vaccine goes through the entire FDA’s approval process, it cannot be required for our troops,” Green said. “If President Biden wants to bypass his own administration and approve the vaccine–that is his decision. [In] absence [of] this or full approval from the FDA, however, the vaccine cannot be required.”
The Pentagon rejected any suggestion this approach was meant to punish anyone for refusing inoculation.
“Nobody is looking for strong punitive disciplinary measures,” spokesman John Kirby said according to the Washington Examiner. “Counseling [will be] provided to any member of the military who does not want to take it for other reasons than religion or medical, and we will talk to them.”
More than 75 percent of active-duty soldiers have already been vaccinated according to the Department of Defense.