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U.S. Soldiers assigned to 299th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division watch for simulated enemy movement at Fort Irwin, Calif., Sept.13, 2023. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ryan Gosselin)

US Army Trying to Recruit Former Soldiers It Fired for Refusing COVID-19 Shot

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The U.S. Army is mailing instructions to former soldiers who were summarily forced out of the service for refusing to get COVID-19 shots, hoping to convince them to rejoin as the Army continues to struggle with recruiting goals. 

The Army said it discharged 1,903 active duty soldiers for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccination during the 15 months when the Pentagon ordered it mandatory. Letters with instructions on how to rejoin were sent to 1,900 people, according to the military information blog

A photo of the letter has circulated widely on social media and it has been confirmed by the Army as genuine. The letter tells former soldiers seeking to return to the service to contact their local Army, US Army Reserve, or Army National Guard recruiter for more information. 

The letter was signed by Brig. Gen. Hope Rampy, Army director of Personnel Management, also notes former soldiers who were "involuntarily separated" for their refusal to get the COVID shot "may request a correction of their military records."

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slider img 2A total of 8,945 soldiers, 10,800 airmen and guardians, 4,172 sailors, and 3,717 Marines tried to get religious exemptions from taking the shot but were denied, according to Task and Purpose

Only Handful of Discharged Personnel Have Rejoined Military Services

Last year, the Army fell about 15,000 soldiers, or 25%, short of its 60,000 recruitment goal. In fact, all the branches struggled to meet recruiting goals. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said in February the Army set a difficult goal for this year: aiming to bring in 65,000 recruits, which would be 20,000 more than in 2022.

Of the more than 8,000 service members who were forced from the U.S. military for refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, only 43 have tried to rejoin in the eight months after the vaccine mandate was rescinded, according to data provided to CNN by the military branches. 

Of those 43 who returned, only 19 soldiers returned to the Army while 12 returned to the Marine Corps. 

Service Goes Back to the Future with 'Be All You Can Be' Campaign

Last month, the Army launched a sweeping overhaul of its recruiting to focus more on young people who've spent time in college or are job hunting early in their careers. It went back to its classic Be All You Can Be marketing campaign to appeal to more young people. 

In addition, the Army is offering several types of enlistment bonuses. A new recruit could earn up to $50,000 in addition to their salary over a certain period of time. The service also points out it provides military allowances to offset the cost of living, including food, housing, and clothing. 

Army recruiters are also emphasizing in bold letters on new recruiting posters that the COVID-19 vaccine is not required to join the service.

When CBN News attempted to find the phrase "COVID-19 Innoculation" on the Army's website, the search for the phrase yielded no results. Searching for the term "COVID-19" led us to a page explaining how troops can pursue a healthcare career. 

Secretary Wormuth also revealed during a press conference last month the Army hasn't met its annual goal for new enlistment contracts since 2014. 

COVID Mandate Rescinded, Troops Who Sought Accommodation No Longer Punished

As CBN News reported on Dec. 30, 2022, the DOD was eventually forced to rescind the COVID-19 shot mandate for all military service members after Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The legislation gave Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin 30 days to end the mandate.

As CBN News reported in January of this year, Austin signed a memo rescinding his August 2021 order that had forced all members of the U.S. military to be vaccinated. The memo also canceled his November 2021 mandate requiring the same vaccinations for members of the National Guard and for reservists. But it also gave commanders some discretion in how or whether to deploy troops who are not vaccinated.

In his memo dated Jan. 10, 2023, Austin made it clear his department will continue to advocate for all service members to receive COVID-19 shots. But he also noted that those who sought an accommodation after refusing to get the shot would not be punished.

DOD Forced to Pay Christian Nonprofit Law Firm $1.8 Million After Losing Legal Battles Over Vax Mandates 

Just last month, the Department of Defense signed a $1.8 million settlement with Liberty Counsel to pay for attorney's fees and costs after the Christian religious rights law firm litigated for two years against the Biden administration's U.S. military COVID-19 vaccine mandate. 

The big settlement, signed by legal representatives from both sides, was filed on Oct. 3 in the Middle District Court of Florida located in Tampa.

In a statement announcing the settlement with the DOD, Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Matt Staver said, "The military COVID shot mandate is dead. Our heroic service members can no longer be forced to take this experimental jab that conflicts with their religious convictions."

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of