Since early 2021, the Department of Defense (DoD) has been obsessed with forcing service members to get vaccinated, no matter what the cost. Do as they say, get a COVID-19 vaccine, and then you can relax – keep your job, get promoted, hold key leadership billets, attend specialized schools, execute PCS orders, and preserve the benefits and entitlements that you have earned.
Disobey, and your voluntary service means nothing. No matter your rank or years of service, they seek to take your job, benefits, and entitlements; and in the meantime, deny you promotion and career opportunities.
Over the next few months, the DoD hopes to force thousands of service members out of the military for refusing the jab. MJA has successfully helped servicemembers fight unjust separation actions and is already battling against unlawful COVID-19 mandates. If you have been notified of administrative separation for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine and want to fight for your career, contact us today for your free consultation.
“VAX, VAX, RELAX”
Sadly, since early 2021, this has become the DoD’s newest cadence. It seems that the DoD is preoccupied with nothing else. It’s become an obsession. Do as they say, get a COVID-19 vaccine, and then you can relax – keep your job, get promoted, hold key leadership billets, attend specialized schools, execute PCS orders, and preserve the benefits and entitlements you’ve earned. Disobey, and your voluntary service means nothing. You will be crushed.
While the military branches invent new orders and regulations, they disregard proper application of the existing law, policies, and procedures governing the approval of medical and administrative exemptions, to include religious accommodation, as governed by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and outlined in the joint regulation, Immunizations and Chemoprophylaxis for the Prevention of Infectious Diseases of October 7, 2013.
However, federal judges are catching on.
On November 22, 2021, a district court judge in Florida wrote that “the [military] plaintiffs’ contention is — based on current data — quite plausible that each branch’s procedure for requesting a religious exemption is a ruse that will result inevitably in the undifferentiated (and therefore unlawful under RFRA) denial of each service member’s request.”
On January 3, 2022, a district court judge in Texas wrote that “The Navy provides a religious accommodation process, but by all accounts, it is theater. The Navy has not granted a religious exemption to any vaccine in recent memory. It merely rubber stamps each denial.” Shortly after, another federal judge in Texas wrote, with respect to the vaccine mandate for federal employees, “there is no reason to believe that the public interest cannot be served via less restrictive measures than the mandate, such as masking, social distancing, or part- or full-time remote work.”
Most recently, a federal judge in Florida found that two service members, a Navy Seal and Marine Officer, were “very likely to prevail on their claim that their respective branch of the military has wrongfully denied a religious exemption from COVID-19 vaccination.” The judge wrote that there is a “strong inference that the services are discriminatorily and systematically denying religious exemptions without a meaningful and fair hearing.”
THE ADMINISTRATIVE SEPARATIONS BATTLE
The military branches are now readying themselves for the administrative separations battle that lies ahead. They are issuing guidance to commanders, personnel officers, and assembling their legal teams.
That guidance includes directing Transition Readiness Seminar attendance and final physical appointments, collecting command “character” statements—intended to reflect poorly on the service member—and issuing notifications of separation proceedings with the basis (or reason) for separation as “misconduct” and “commission of a serious offense,” i.e., failure to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
These increased efforts are occurring even though most of the new COVID-19 infections in the DoD are arising from among the fully vaccinated and even boosted population.
Whether you are currently in the separation process or anticipate soon joining this category, ask yourself: “Am I doing everything that I possibly can to lawfully defend myself and my faith, moral principles, and matter of conscience?”
Requesting mast, submitting Article 138 complaints of wrongs, filing complaints with an Office of the Inspector General, and seeking assistance through your Congressman’s office are all lawful actions that you may take to protect yourself and your career. MJA can help with those efforts and encourages the same if you feel they are right for you as part of a “long game.”
REQUEST A BOARD HEARING
Many patriots, including those under 6 years of total service, are being denied the right to request a board hearing. If this is you, now is not the time to give up! There are many actions you can take now which may assist you in obtaining the relief that you seek post-separation, for example, through the appropriate discharge review process or in federal litigation.
And if you are offered the opportunity to request a board hearing, and you want to fight for yourself and your family members—those directly impacted by the relentless persecution of your sincerely held beliefs—then contact MJA immediately about representation at a board.
A board will vote as to whether a preponderance of evidence supports the basis for separation. If a basis is found, then it will vote to recommend whether you are separated. If separation is recommended, then it will vote to recommend a characterization of service – a recommendation which the separation authority cannot lower or otherwise make worse. In short, a board hearing gives you the opportunity to fight to save your career.
SUBMIT REBUTTAL MATTERS
Servicemembers with less than 6 years of active duty do not rate a separation board when discharged under Honorable or General (Under Honorable Conditions). As a result, they can be involuntarily separated from the military via “notification procedures” without a formal hearing. Even without a hearing, however, servicemembers can still fight to remain on active duty or have an Honorable discharge.
Servicemembers notified of separation may submit written matters or statements in response to the proposed separation. If an intermediate commander considers additional unfavorable information outside that contained in the original separation action, then servicemembers should be allowed to rebut the additional material prior to the separation action being forwarded up the chain of command.
The submission of a compelling written rebuttal is the Soldier’s single best opportunity to terminate the separation proceedings or to convince the separation authority to suspend the separation or discharge the servicemember with a fully Honorable discharge.
ADMINISTRATIVE SEPARATION CONSIDERATIONS
You should also consider taking the following steps in anticipation of your processing for administrative separation:
- Do not drop your pack. Continue to exemplify the warrior ethos. Do your job and do it well. Though hard to maintain at times, you must have a positive attitude and be grateful for the opportunities you have been given.
- Document everything. Maintain a record of each communication made and action taken by your chain of command as it pertains to your vaccination status.
- Contact medical. Instruct your health/medical team to document all service-connected illnesses and injuries now. Do not wait to preserve this information in your medical record, because once you separate from the service it is often too late. Generally, disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs cannot be taken away by the DoD so long as your characterization of service is under other than dishonorable conditions, i.e., Honorable and General discharges.
- Gather statements. Often referred to as “affidavits,” these signed and sworn statements should be from individuals with whom you have a personal or professional relationship and who may comment on your unquestionably honorable service in uniform and exceptional reputation in the community. Remember, it is always easier to obtain these from fellow service members if you don’t drop your pack.
CONTACT US TODAY
MJA has successfully helped servicemembers fight unjust separation actions. If you have been notified of administrative separation for refusing the COVID-19 vaccination and want to fight for your career, contact us today for your free consultation.
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