WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has sent a letter to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, and Army Secretary Christine Wormuth demanding answers on the Department of Defense’s coronavirus vaccine mandate, which resulted in thousands of healthy and patriotic service members being discharged.
While Democrats continue to accuse Coach Tuberville of impacting military readiness for delaying the promotions of some 300 generals and admirals, they support vaccine mandates that have depleted the ranks of more than 8,000 patriots—a policy that has actually damaged readiness and punished thousands of military families.
“Our military should be focused on one thing only: winning,” said Senator Tuberville. “Joe Biden firing thousands of healthy and dedicated service members made us weaker and never had any basis in science. The Senate—and, more importantly, military families—deserve a full accounting of the effects of this policy up and down the chain of command. The Pentagon needs to stop stonewalling and give us the answers we deserve.”
On August 24, 2021, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a COVID-19 vaccination mandate on all American service members. This mandate directed the Secretaries of the Military Departments to immediately begin “full vaccination of all members of the Armed Forces under Department of Defense (DoD) authority on active duty or in the Ready Reserve, including the National Guard, who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”
Data shows there have been 1,861 Army, 2,041 Navy, 3,717 Marine Corps, and 834 Air Force/Space Force service members discharged due to the COVID-19 vaccine.
In July 2023, Senator Tuberville supported an amendment to the annual defense bill offered by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) to reinstate servicemembers dismissed based on their COVID-19 vaccine status. Democrats blocked the amendment.
Over this same period of time, military recruitment has faced unprecedented shortfalls. The Army missed its recruitment goal by 10,000 soldiers last year. This year, nearly all services are expected to miss their recruitment goals.
Instead of forcing soldiers to take vaccines to which they have serious objections, the DoD should focus on recruiting and retaining servicemembers to defend our great nation.
Complete text of the letter can be found here or below:
Secretary Del Toro, Secretary Kendall, Secretary Wormuth,
On August 24, 2021, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a COVID-19 vaccination mandate. This mandate directed the Secretaries of the Military Departments to immediately begin “full vaccination of all members of the Armed Forces under DoD authority on active duty or in the Ready Reserve, including the National Guard, who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”
The first COVID-19 vaccines were developed and publicly available just nine months after the pandemic began, making them the most rapidly developed vaccinations ever produced for public distribution. Though an impressive scientific feat, willingness to have these vaccines administered was met with an appropriate level of hesitation by many as test trials were quick, limited, and distributed with relatively no understanding of long-term health complications.
It was subsequently discovered that some vaccines were created and tested using cell lines derived from aborted fetal tissue. This revelation led to widespread objections of conscience for civilians and service members with genuine religious convictions.
Despite well-founded apprehension, the Department of Defense (DoD) directed service secretaries to implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all members of the Armed Forces. The result of this directive led to thousands of service members being discharged for COVID-19 vaccination noncompliance, negatively impacting our military readiness, recruitment, and retention.
Data shows there have been 1,861 Army, 2,041 Navy, 3,717 Marine Corps, and 834 Air Force/Space Force service members discharged due to the COVID-19 vaccine. To better understand the implications of the COVID-19 vaccination mandate within the DoD and its impact on readiness and recruiting, I request a written response to the following questions:
- What are the Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSC), and Naval ratings of each service member discharged for not complying with the Department of Defense’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate?
- What is the rank of each service member discharged for not complying with the Department of Defense’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate?
- What was the services’ plan to ensure continued readiness after the mandate went into effect, knowing that thousands of service members would be discharged?
- What protocols were put in place for backfilling those MOS, AFSC, and Naval ratings that were lost due to the pandemic, particularly for those jobs in which a shortage already existed?
- What was your staffing mitigation plan to handle the personnel shortfalls that occurred due to the hasty COVID-19 vaccine mandate to ensure there was no loss in readiness?
- How many of the service members who were discharged because of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate have re-joined the military?
Please provide information in response to these questions to my office by no later than September 22, 2023.
United States Senator
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.