The Department of Defense Continues to Hypocritically Deny Military Service Members Medical and Religious Exemptions for Vaccines | The Gateway Pundit

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Image: Wikimedia Commons (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Theron J. Godbold)

For service members whose careers survived the now-rescinded COVID-19 military “vaccine” mandate, many are becoming increasingly concerned about all vaccines, which include the flu vaccine.

Objections, including those based on religious grounds, about the safety, efficacy, testing, and research of the injections they once agreed to receive are on the rise.

The Gateway Pundit spoke to Daniel Schmid, Liberty Counsel’s Associate Vice President of Legal Affairs. “Many military members have sincere religious objections to certain immunizations, either because of their connections to aborted fetal cells or because they just have other religious convictions,” Mr. Schmid said. “There’s a federal statute called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), as well as the First Amendment, which entitles them to protection for those religious beliefs,” he explained.

Upon the 2021 implementation and enforcement of COVID immunizations, thousands of service members were reluctant to take the vaccine—and many sought religious accommodation. According to Mr. Schmid, these requests should have been reviewed by a chaplain and then sent up the chain of command for serious individual consideration. However, he said, most requests for religious accommodation were “denied in mass.” The appeals of service members were also overwhelmingly denied.

Members of the military who refused to comply with the now-rescinded COVID-19 vaccine mandate faced a variety of punitive actions, including letters of reprimand, dishonorable discharges, and more. At the same time, COVID-19 injections were being “billed as 100 percent safe and effective, and they clearly are not.”

As service members began to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, he said, the conversations often steered toward the use of aborted fetal cells in vaccine testing and research, as well as the toxicity of the “gene altering” injection and its associated adverse health effects. According to a 2020 Moderna, Inc. report by the Securities and Exchange Commission, “mRNA is considered a gene therapy product by the FDA.” The Gateway Pundit has widely reported the vaccine’s adverse health effects.

“As the knowledge base increased [among service members] as to what is in certain immunizations, what they’re connected to, and how they’re developed, tested, and manufactured,” Mr. Schmid said, “it began to crystallize a more informed knowledge base that was previously lacking.’  And for him, “the more education, the better for it is for individuals, especially when you’re talking about putting something into their body.”

As knowledge continued to grow, Mr. Schmid said many service members also began to learn that requests for religious accommodation were an option they could pursue in the military when objecting to a given vaccine on the grounds of religion. “Most signed up as pincushions, getting jabbed with everything, not knowing it was an option to assert their religious beliefs,” he explained.

“Shouldn’t we protect the ones who swore an oath to defend the Constitution of all people?” he said, pointing out that “it seems patently obvious that they’re entitled to the same protections for religious freedom found within the document that we all are.” Moving forward, Mr. Schmid expects the number of requests for religious accommodation to increase because of a more informed military population.

Evidence of Hypocrisy

Many service members have now raised objections to the annual flu shots among the many vaccinations that service members have been required to take in recent years. The Gateway Pundit spoke to Captain Joshua “Hippity” Hoppe, an MV-22B Osprey pilot who is now an instructor in the T-6B aircraft, training the next generation of aviators for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

Not only did he defend religious and medical freedoms during the unlawful COVID mandates, he also requested a religious accommodation for the flu shot in December 2022. He cited his family’s approach to living a healthy lifestyle, the fact that he’s not in a high-risk category for severe cases of influenza, the DoD Immunization Program allows for medical and religious exemptions to the flu shot, and the fact that he believes the Lord is leading his family to no longer receive the flu shot annually.

Capt. Hoppe’s request was denied in February 2023. While the Marine Corps Headquarters agreed that he “may be healthier than the average citizen,” they claimed that the seasonal flu is “a highly contagious disease that has the potential to significantly and negatively impact” him and the safety of his unit.

The Marine Corps further claimed that reducing this risk was a “compelling government interest” and the “seasonal influenza vaccine is the most effective and readily available tool the Marine Corps has to keep [him and his] fellow Marines healthy and safe.”

Capt. Hoppe appealed this decision in June 2023 after obtaining the endorsements of his request through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. In his appeal, he cited the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website on Seasonal Flu Vaccine Effectiveness that illustrates the average flu vaccine effectiveness from 2009-2023 varying from as low as 19 percent to as high as 60 percent.

Capt. Hoppe also stated in his appeal “that a continued disregard for service members’ religious and medical freedoms that were given by God and protected by our Constitution will continue to negatively impact recruitment and retention if not corrected.”

His appeal was denied in February by Gen. G. P. Olson, Director, Marine Corps Staff. Although Gen. Olson affirmed his request was based on “sincerely held religious faith and beliefs,” he stated that Capt. Hoppe must remain “world-wide deployable” and surmised that “because there are no less restrictive means to ensure these compelling government interests, I deny your appeal.”

This final denial led Capt. Hoppe to conduct a survey among DOD service members who have also requested exemptions from the annual flu shots. Between March and April, Capt. Hoppe conducted an independent survey to collect data on the influenza vaccine religious accommodation and medical exemption process in the DOD. The results were compiled into a report titled DOD Flu Exemption Survey Results and included as an attachment in an Inspector General Complaint that he submitted alleging the final decision was a discrimination of his Constitutionally-protected religious freedoms.

The survey’s 143 respondents represented all branches of U.S. Armed Forces. Ninety-one respondents indicated they had requested religious accommodation for the flu vaccine. Fourteen others indicated they had requested medical exemption. According to survey, the DOD does have the ability to approve exemptions as seen by the 13 service members that were approved (to include longstanding 10+ year approvals) where service members have been able to remain “world-wide deployable” while remaining exempt from the annual flu shot.

As in Capt. Hoppe’s example, Mr. Schmid said, “the DOD will often argue that they’re weighing a military member’s religious beliefs against the government’s compelling interest in military readiness and in the health and safety of the force.”

“If you scratch their rationale a little bit below the surface,” Mr. Schmid said, “you’ll find that this isn’t entirely true.” On the one hand, he agreed that the Marine Corps might have a legitimate interest in preventing illness. But on the other hand, he said, “what they consider fully vaccinated among the force is generally about 90 to 93 percent of the force.” To that end, DOD Instruction 6205.02 (p. 3, paragraph 1.2.c.) confirms “a goal of 90 percent immunized by January 15th of each year.”

“Considering this, it’s obvious that they’ve baked into it a number of service members who don’t get the shot, whether for medical reasons or some other reason. He questioned, “Why can’t the DOD acknowledge that the First Amendment should be extended to the small percentage of those who would fall within your window of those unvaccinated?”

For Mr. Schmid, “the notion that forcing Capt. Hoppe to get the flu vaccine means that the United States military is now ready at a moment’s notice to go and defend the nation is just comical and patently absurd to me.”

“Does the DOD really have a compelling interest in making sure Capt. Hoppe is vaccinated versus a larger pool of people who have no religious objection or medical problem with the vaccine?” he asked, disclosing, “he [doesn’t] buy their rational and [thinks] they’re actually hiding behind it, just like they did while pushing the COVID injection.”

Interestingly, Capt. Hoppe and the author have reviewed some of the Navy’s approved religious accommodation requests (RARs) that cite the “current disease environment” as a reason they could approve an exemption from the flu shots—or all shots for that matter.

For Capt. Hoppe, “It seems hypocritical that the DOD can approve some requests due to the current disease environment, but deny others for individuals who aren’t even attached to a deployable unit.”

In January, he and 230 other service members signed the Declaration of Military, pledging to hold leadership accountable for the COVID mandate which unlawfully separated roughly 8,600 service members. Any American can join them in this pledge by adding their name at MilitaryAccountability.net.

Capt. Hoppe emphasized that his views don’t reflect those of the Department of Defense, the Department of the Navy, or the United States Marine Corps.

Source link