Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Charlie Dietz told The Epoch Times that the Department of Defense is “still exploring” potential back-pay for troops fired for refusing the vaccine and “will provide its views on the legislation of this nature at the appropriate time and through the appropriate process.”
The new development comes shortly after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a memo rescinding the vaccine mandate in response to the December 2022 defense spending bill requiring an end to the mandate.
“The Department will continue to promote and encourage COVID-19 vaccination for all service members,” Austin said.
“Vaccination enhances operational readiness and protects the force.”
“Certainly commanders do have a responsibility to ensure that if they’re sending forces to a place that requires a vaccine that that’s a situation that will be addressed, you know, on a case-by-case basis,” Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters on Thursday.
According to the Epoch Times, the Department of Defense’s vaccine mandate forced 8,400 troops out of the military, and thousands more asked for religious and medical exemptions.
“But you know, we have a responsibility for the health and welfare of our forces. And so, you know, again, depending on the situation and the circumstances, it is incumbent on commanders to ensure that they’re doing what they need to do to make sure those forces are ready.”
According to Lloyd Austin, over 2 million service members – or 96 percent of the active duty and reserve forces – are “fully vaccinated.”
Austin instituted the Defense Department’s vaccine mandate in August 2021.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in December that the Biden administration believes removing the mandate was a “mistake,” repeating claims that jabs “make sure our troops are prepared and ready for service.”
President Joe Biden ultimately signed the bill, which had bipartisan support, despite the White House’s puzzling hardline stance on the mandate.
Congressman Mark Green (R-TN), a retired U.S. Army major, joined Fox Business to discuss the mandate’s rescission, and the work ahead for Republicans to make sure discharged service members can be reinstated.
President Biden's DOD is rabid about this vaccine mandate. It's going to take @HouseGOP to get our prior servicemembers reinstated.
MORE with @LizMacDonaldFOX: pic.twitter.com/eBXFHp3dtS
— Rep. Mark Green (@RepMarkGreen) January 12, 2023