Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has introduced legislation known as the AMERICANS Act to provide retrospective relief to those members of the military who were “discharged or subject to adverse action under the COVID–19 vaccine mandate.”
“Our military continues to feel the effects of the Biden administration’s reckless, misguided, and now-prohibited vaccine mandates. I’m glad that we were able to remove the COVID-19 vaccine mandate last Congress, but there is more work to do,” Cruz said in a press release. “The AMERICANS Act would correct the wrongs done to unvaccinated service members who were discharged for exercising their conscience.”
Texas has one of the largest contingencies of military members in the country. Nearly 175,000 active duty and reserve members live in the state, the largest portion of which is part of the U.S. Army.
On August 24, 2021, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a memorandum mandating that members of the U.S. Armed Forces be vaccinated against COVID-19. On January 10, 2023, he rescinded the order as required by the Congressional mandate in the National Defense Authorization Act passed last December.
On a Verdict podcast episode this week, Cruz said the Biden administration has never provided him with information about the number of military members discharged or demoted for declining to take the mandated COVID-19 injections during the 16-month period when they were required. He believes the number is in the thousands or perhaps tens of thousands.
The AMERICANS Act calls for the reinstatement of any service member who was discharged solely based on his or her vaccine status, including crediting the member with the absent time for retirement purposes.
If a former service member doesn’t seek reinstatement, he or she would have an adjustment made from “general” discharge to “honorable” discharge.
Any service member who was demoted because of his or her vaccine status would have the previous rank restored along with lost pay and benefits.
Additionally, the bill calls for those service members’ records to be expunged of any adverse actions taken against them based on vaccine status.
Going forward, the bill provides for a COVID-19 vaccine exemption process if service members have natural immunity, a relevant underlying health condition, or a sincerely held religious belief inconsistent with being vaccinated.
Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services (STARRS) Chairman Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Rod Bishop expressed his support of the proposal. “[W]e are avid advocates of Senator Cruz’s efforts to ensure patriotic military men and women who have suffered because of apparently illegal acts by our government are provided some crucial remedies through the AMERICANS Act!”
STARRS is a group whose mission is “eliminate … divisive influences and maintain a unified and cohesive fighting force.”
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Kim Roberts is a regional reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.