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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III regarding the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate and the Navy’s recent order that U.S. military service members could lose their veterans’ benefits for failing to comply with the mandate.

“Without an approved medical exemption or religious accommodation, service members who decline to fully vaccinate against COVID-19 within the timelines prescribed by Secretaries of Military Departments will be found to have disobeyed a lawful general order. . . . As a result, service members found in violation may face punitive or administrative action, including the initiation of discharge proceedings,” wrote Kennedy. 

“These heroes are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend American liberties, but they are now losing their own freedom and possibly their livelihoods at the hands of this administration,” he continued.

Kennedy also raised concerns that the vaccine mandate will compromise military readiness and America’s national security at a time when America’s adversaries are looking for weakness in U.S. resolve and readiness. 

The senator asked Austin whether service members discharged because of the vaccine mandate will receive an honorable or dishonorable discharge and what benefits these service members stand to lose as a consequence of the mandate. 

“I support the vaccine, but I also support the freedom Americans have to make their own medical decisions concerning this vaccine. Coercing service members to take this vaccine by threatening their honor, livelihoods, and benefits runs contrary to our shared American values and undermines our national security interests,” concluded Kennedy.

The letter is available here.