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House Armed Services Committee aims to overturn penalties to troops booted for refusing COVID vaccine

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The House Armed Services Committee has taken a first step for service members who were discharged for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and allow them back into active duty.

Chairman of the Military Personnel subcommittee, Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) stated “This provides a fair, equitable, and honorable option for our wrongly separated service members — many who filed legitimate religious exemptions and were ignored — to return to the ranks without any detriments to their career progression.”

The committee’s actions come after a 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (DNAA) repealed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for military personnel, which “opened up a host of complications for members awaiting exemptions or discharges who had negative marks entered into their personnel records and did nothing to reinstate those already discharged” reports The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“The House Armed Services Committee, debating its markup of the NDAA for fiscal year 2024, took an initial stab at addressing those problems following a year of confusion and GOP dissatisfaction with the Pentagon over how it handled the vaccine repeal” the publication adds.

Banks introduced an amendment which prevents the Department of Defense (DOD) from adding adverse actions to a service member’s personnel record solely on the basis of refusing the COVID-19 vaccine. Top officials from each of the services previously told Congress no servicemember would be punished just for refusing the vaccine, but “aggravating factors” could lead to adverse marks permanently entered in their files.

The bill also asks the secretary to reinstate willing members with no changes to their rank or paygrade, rather than requiring them to reenlist and work their way back up to the position they held at time of separation.

The Pentagon booted 8,400 troops from service for refusing the vaccine. Roughly 70% found themselves involuntarily separated from the military solely for refusing the vaccine received a “general” discharge rather than “honorable,” Military Times reported. 

 

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COVID-19

Former Harvard medical professor says he was fired for opposing Covid lockdowns and vaccine mandates

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“My hope is that someday, Harvard will find its way back to academic freedom and independence.” That is the heartfelt message from Dr. Martin Kulldorff, a former Harvard University professor of medicine since 2003, who recently announced publicly he was fired for “clinging to the truth” in his opposition to Covid lockdowns and vaccine mandates.

Kulldorff posted the news on social media alongside an essay published in the City Journal last week. The epidemiologist and biostatistician also spoke with National Review about the incident. Kulldorff says he was fired by the Harvard-affiliated Mass General Brigham hospital system and put on a leave of absence by Harvard Medical School in November 2021 over his stance on Covid.

Nearly two years later, in October 2023, his leave of absence was terminated as a matter of policy, marking the end of his time at the university. Harvard severed ties with Kulldorff “all on their initiative,” he said.

The history of the medical professional’s public stance on Covid-19 vaccines and mandates is detailed by National Review:

Censorship and rejection led Kulldorff to co-author the Great Barrington Declaration in October 2020 alongside Dr. Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University. Together, the three public-health scientists argued for limited and targeted Covid-19 restrictions that “protect the elderly, while letting children and young adults live close to normal lives,” as Kulldorff put it in his essay.

“The declaration made clear that no scientific consensus existed for school closures and many other lockdown measures. In response, though, the attacks intensified—and even grew slanderous,” he wrote, naming former National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins as the one who ordered a “devastating published takedown” of the declaration.

Testifying before Congress in January, Collins reaffirmed his previous statements attacking the Great Barrington Declaration.

Despite the coordinated effort against it, the document has over 939,000 signatures in favor of age-based focused protection.

The Great Barrington Declaration’s authors, who advocated the quick reopening of schools, have been vindicated by recent studies that confirm pandemic-era school closures were, in fact, detrimental to student learning. The data show that students from third through eighth grade who spent most of the 2020–21 school year in remote learning fell more than half a grade behind in math scores on average, while those who attended school in person dropped a little over a third of a grade, according to a New York Times review of existing studies. In addition to learning losses, school closures did very little to stop the spread of Covid, studies show.

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