Legislation to prevent dishonorable discharge for unvaccinated service members signed into law


Prevention and immunization from coronavirus infection.

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. introduced a legislation a few months ago that would prevent service members from receiving a dishonorable discharge for choosing not to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Today, President Joe Biden signed that into law as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NCAA).

“As a former Army doctor, I am proud the NDAA was signed into law and included my amendment to ensure service members will be protected from a dishonorable discharge for choosing not to get the COVID vaccine. Simply put, a dishonorable discharge treats our heroes as felons. But, our American heroes deserve better,” said Sen. Marshall. “I support the vaccine, but I also support those who are defending our freedoms and have carefully weighed their decision on whether to receive it. With the NDAA having been signed into law, our servicemen and women have medical freedom they rightly deserve.”

Sen. Marshall introduced the COVID-19 vaccine Dishonorable Discharge Prevention Act after President Biden began mandating millions of Americans to get vaccinated, including military members, and the Department of Defense (DOD) began issuing guidance. Those guidelines stated that soldiers who refuse the vaccine may face a “career-ending decision,” and others could face “transfers, travel restrictions, limits on deployments and requirements to repay bonuses.”

Soon after the bill’s introduction, the White House announced that they opposed the legislation. Sen. Marshall then offered his legislation as an amendment to the NDAA.

The COVID-19 vaccine Dishonorable Discharge Prevention Act states that “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a member of the armed forces subject to discharge on the basis of the member choosing not to receive the COVID–19 vaccine may only receive an honorable discharge.”

Regardless, there are still cases where U.S. service members will be dishonorably discharged, and those members must surrender the following rights and benefits:

  • Ownership of any sort of firearm or ammunition
  • Access to the GI Bill for further education
  • Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans
  • VA medical benefits
  • Military Funeral Honors
  • Re-enlistment in another military branch

Not only does the NDAA now include the amendment that prevents dishonorable discharges of unvaccinated service members, but it also sends a combined $21.1 million to Kansas military communities.

  • $4 million in funding for Fort Leavenworth Child Development Center
  • $17.1 million in funding for the Kansas National Guard Nickell Memorial Armory

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