Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., told Newsmax on Wednesday that President Joe Biden must reinstate and give back pay to members of the military that were discharged under his COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
"These are individuals who we have got to protect this country, and literally be the strongest and the best military in the world. And we've always had that," Van Drew said during "American Agenda" Wednesday. "And now we're like completely going backwards. That policy has to stop. The military has to be what it is, which is a strong military force, the best in the world, and we can no longer go forward with these policies, and we've got to get to people who are let go, were literally discharged, and bring them back because they belong back home taking care of our country."
President Joe Biden mandated all federal employees and military personnel be vaccinated against COVID-19 shortly after taking office in January 2021, leading to a series of court challenges.
NPR reported in February that all the service branches would begin discharging service members that remained unvaccinated.
"Army readiness depends on soldiers who are prepared to train, deploy, fight and win our nation's wars," Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth told NPR at the time. "Unvaccinated soldiers present risk to the force and jeopardize readiness."
The Military Times reported in April that 70% of the 3,400 unvaccinated troops let go as part of Biden's mandate were given "general discharges," which allowed them to be eligible for veterans benefits and the option of rejoining the service after getting the vaccine.
Van Drew said Wednesday that the number of discharges for not being vaccinated is now about 5,700 and may be a contributing factor for lower than hoped recruitment across the services.
"This is just so typical of everything that the Biden administration does, and that this [Democratic] majority, which is going to go away in the House of Representatives does. [They are] self-created problems," he said. "We wouldn't have the problem except that they force people to get the COVID vaccine, and now there's not even an emergency declared anymore. And yet, if they didn't get the vaccine, they were then discharged. Then you wonder why you have a shortage. Well, you're discharging people. You're losing people. Good U.S. Coast Guard people that are doing a great job. And of course, you're going to lose them because they don't want to do this. We've lost 5,700 already, and it's in all branches of the service. We're having a tough time whether it's the Army, and Navy, [or] the Marines, of getting people to actually volunteer and to get involved because of what is happening because of the mandates that are being placed."
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