FIRST ON FOX: Republican lawmakers on Thursday sent a letter to the Secretary of the U.S. Army, urging the service to immediately rescind its policy requiring Army officers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel.
Texas Rep. Chip Roy, Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson spearheaded the letter, which said there “is no basis to treat vaccinated and unvaccinated soldiers differently.” It argued the policy does not adhere to new CDC guidelines as vaccinated troops can still transmit or be infected with coronavirus.
The letter called the Army’s policy “political maneuvering” that is “unfounded” and “puts military readiness at risk,” including impacting “the trust and morale of our premier fighting force.”
The Republicans added, “Policies like these can contribute to significant recruiting difficulty, compounding the Army’s struggle to meet recruiting objectives for FY22.” This comes during a time that U.S. military recruitment is lagging.
Fox Digital reported in August on findings from U.S. Army fragmentary orders stating that the Army prevented unvaccinated soldiers from official travel.
Fox News Digital exclusively obtained a pair of U.S. Army fragmentary orders (FRAGOs) from multiple sources detailing COVID-19 guidance issued on July 8 and July 19.
The FRAGO orders issued on July 8 include a bolded update from June 16, 2022, reminding soldiers of the guidance prohibiting unvaccinated soldiers — even those with or awaiting a vaccine exemption — from engaging in official travel without “prior approval” from Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo.
Several lawmakers provided comment on the letter to end the vaccine mandate for official travel.
“It’s intolerable that the Army is punishing all unvaccinated soldiers — even those granted medical or religious waivers — by cutting them off from vital career advancement opportunities,” Rep. Chip Roy., R-Texas, said.
“The Biden Administration has shown what their tyrannical policy is really about: a deliberate, ideological purge of patriotic service members who dare abide by their conscience and religious beliefs. To be frank, it is because of irrational policies like this that the Army is catastrophically failing to meet recruiting goals. Tyrannical, anti-American policies like this only make our enemies laugh and applaud.”
Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., said, “Army policy currently requires all soldiers who have not taken a COVID vaccine, including those with permanent religious or medical exemptions, to seek approval from an Army Undersecretary before they are allowed to perform official travel, move, or change jobs.”
“As long as this policy is in effect,” said Johnson, “they are effectively second-class soldiers. If you’re wondering why the Army is failing so miserably at recruitment and retention, look no further. This policy should be rescinded immediately.”
“These men and women serve our country honorably, often risking their lives to protect us at home and abroad. The current policy threatens our military preparedness and jeopardizes the career opportunities of deserving service members. We need to do better for these American patriots.”
The U.S. Army did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Fox News’ Houston Keene contributed to this report