Military Agrees to Pay $1.8 Million to Settle Lawsuits From COVID Vaccine Mandate

The United States military has agreed to pay $1.8 million to settle two lawsuits filed by US servicemembers challenging the COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, and Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro agreed to settle the two lawsuits, known as U.S. Navy SEALs 1-26 v. Biden and Colonel Financial Management Officer, et al. v. Austin, which challenged the legality of the military-wide vaccine mandate.
The two cases were brought by servicemembers from all branches of the US military, including numerous officers and members of the elite US Navy SEALs. The Navy SEAL plaintiffs first filed their lawsuit in October 2021, nearly two years after President Joe Biden ordered that all US troops and other executive branch employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Military servicemembers have raised a number of concerns about the military COVID-19 vaccine mandate, including allegations that the various military branches routinely denied requests for religious accommodations to the mandates. Plaintiffs have also expressed health concerns about the relatively short time frame in which the various COVID-19 vaccines were developed and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

While the various COVID-19 vaccines were initially made available to the general public under emergency use authorizations, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine version, later marketed as Comirnaty, eventually received full FDA approval. The vaccine mandate was introduced by President Biden shortly after the FDA granted full approval for Comirnaty, but the lawsuits argued that the FDA-approved vaccine was not always available to servicemembers, implying that the military vaccine mandate effectively required service members to take versions of the COVID-19 vaccines that did not have full FDA approval.

Republican lawmakers proposed repealing the military’s vaccine mandate in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last year. Despite his objections to the provision repealing his military vaccine mandate, President Biden eventually signed the 2022 NDAA into law.
The settlement agreement was announced on October 3 by Liberty Counsel, a religious liberty nonprofit that represented military plaintiffs in both cases.

“The military COVID shot mandate is dead,” said Liberty Counsel founder and Chairman Mat Staver in a statement. “Our heroic service members can no longer be forced to take this experimental jab that conflicts with their religious convictions.”
The $1.8 million settlement will be split between the two cases, with $900,000 going to the SEAL 1-26 v. Biden plaintiffs and the same amount going to the Colonel Financial Management Officer, et al. v. Austin plaintiffs.

“Through our daily work with service members in every branch, we have had the privilege of knowing some of the finest people who love God and love America,” he said. “Our own government should not have mistreated these heroes.” Simultaneously, we have realized that many high-ranking members of leadership, the Pentagon, and the Biden administration must be replaced. They collectively dishonored the valiant men and women who defend our freedom. If religious discrimination occurs in the future, we will defend our freedom fighters.”

As a result of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, approximately 8,400 US military servicemembers were involuntarily separated from the military.

The majority of servicemembers were given a general discharge rather than an honorable discharge. Servicemembers separated under a general discharge may be barred from rejoining the military and may not be eligible for full GI Bill educational benefits.

Servicemembers who were separated as a result of the vaccine mandate but requested a waiver may be able to rejoin the military. Some military veterans have requested that their discharge classification be changed.

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