- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 18, 2023

The Defense Department will not provide back pay to troops who were kicked out for refusing to get mandated coronavirus vaccines, despite congressional Republicans forcing the Biden administration to rescind the policy.

A Pentagon spokesman on Tuesday walked back comments from last week that suggested such a policy change was being considered.

“We are not currently pursuing back pay to service members who were dismissed for refusing to take the COVID vaccination,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters. “At the time that those orders were refused, it was a lawful order. So I’ll just leave it at that.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered all military personnel to get the vaccine in August 2021. He rescinded the policy after Congress ordered the policy charge in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which President Biden signed into law.

The Pentagon’s refusal to authorize back pay for discharged troops reflects Mr. Austin’s unapologetic tone in formally rescinding the mandate, saying it ensured a “high level of readiness” for the military.

Congressional Republicans have said the Defense Department’s COVID-19 policy added to the military’s current recruiting woes, which the Pentagon has rejected.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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