Legislation Takes Steps to Restore Rank, Pay & Benefits for Those Booted from Service for Refusing Shots

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today announced she is cosponsoring legislation to a bill to reinstate military servicemembers who were fired over President Biden’s vaccine mandates.

Hyde-Smith is an original cosponsor of the AMERICANS Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would not only restore discharged servicemembers, but also require congressional approval before the Department of Defense could impose another COVID vaccine mandate.

“I’m proud we stopped the unfair Biden vaccine mandate on our military in December, but more must be done to remedy the unfair punishments still felt by those kicked out of the service for refusing to get jabbed,” said Hyde-Smith, who was part of the successful fight to end the military vaccine mandate in the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act.

“The AMERICANS Act deserves support to do right by our servicemembers and prohibit similar mandates in the future.  This legislation could also help restore trust in our military and reverse the Pentagon’s lagging enlistment and retention record under the Biden administration,” she said.

In addition to prohibiting the Secretary of Defense from issuing any replacement COVID-19 vaccine mandate without Congressional approval, the AMERICANS Act (S.29) would require the Department of Defense to:

  • Reinstate any service member separated solely for COVID-19 vaccine status who wants to return to service, crediting the service member with the time of involuntary separation for retirement pay calculations;
  • Restore the rank of any service member demoted solely for COVID-19 vaccine status, compensating the service member for any pay and benefits lost due to that demotion;
  • Adjust to “honorable” any “general” discharge given to a service member solely due to COVID-19 vaccine status;
  • Expunge from a service member’s record any adverse action based solely on COVID-19 vaccine status, regardless of whether the service member previously sought an accommodation;
  • Make every effort to retain service members not vaccinated against COVID-19, providing them with professional development, promotion, and leadership opportunities equal to that of their peers; and
  • Provide a COVID-19 vaccine exemption process for service members with natural immunity, a relevant underlying health condition, or a sincerely held religious belief inconsistent with being vaccinated.

Additional cosponsors include U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), James Risch (R-Idaho), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.).