Biden Opposes Amendment to Block Bad Discharges for US Service Members Declining Vaccine

US President Joe Biden looks down alongside First Lady Jill Biden as they attend the dignified transfer of the remains of a fallen service member at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, August, 29, 2021, one of the 13 members of the US military killed in Afghanistan last week. – President Joe Biden prepared Sunday at a US military base to receive the remains of the 13 American service members killed in an attack in Kabul, a solemn ritual that comes amid fierce criticism of his handling of the Afghanistan crisis. Biden and his wife, Jill, both wearing black and with black face masks, first met far from the cameras with relatives of the dead in a special family center at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.The base, on the US East Coast about two hours from Washington, is synonymous with the painful return of service members who have fallen in combat. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

The Biden administration came out in opposition to an amendment in the 2022 National Defense Authorization that would block the Department of Defense from giving service members who decline the coronavirus vaccine anything but an honorable discharge.

The House Armed Services Committee had passed an amendment called Section 716 to the act on Tuesday, mandating that service members who are discharged for declining the vaccine receive honorable discharges.

The Administration strongly opposes section 716, which would detract from readiness and limit a commander’s options for enforcing good order and discipline when a Service member fails to obey a lawful order to receive a vaccination,” the White House Office of Management and Budget in a statement following the amendment’s passage.

I am appalled that the Biden Administration is trying to remove my amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that prevents anything but an honorable discharge for service members who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” Rep. Mark Green, the amendment’s sponsor, said in a statement to the Daily Mail.This was a bipartisan amendment — every Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee agreed to it.

There are a variety of discharges other than the standard honorable discharge. A dishonorable discharge is the very worst and is equivalent to a civilian felony conviction. Other discharges such as a bad conduct discharge or an other-than-honorable discharge are likely to leave veterans with damaged career prospects and no chance of rejoining the military.

It’s a possibility that troops declining the vaccine will be given general discharges or a general discharge under honorable conditions. These discharges would block them from using the GI Bill for college tuition, in what would amount to a punishment and the loss of veteran’s benefits for a personal medical decision.

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