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Report finds U.S. military violated rules in handling COVID-19 vaccine mandate exemption requests
By Ava Grace // Mar 29, 2024

Different branches of the United States Armed Forces violated their own rules in handling requests for exemptions from the military's Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine mandate.

This is according to a report from the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, which found that both the Army and the Air Force went well over time requirements for processing exemption requests.

In a sampling of 12 religious exemption requests submitted to the Army, the average processing time was 192 days. The Army requirement is to complete reviews for exemption applications within 90 days.

In a sampling of 35 religious accommodation requests submitted to the Air Force, the branch took an average of 168 days to process them despite the branch's requirement being 30 days for processing. (Related: Active-duty and retired military members call for accountability over harms caused by VACCINE MANDATES in open letter.)

"Prolonged delays in addressing requests for religious accommodations could impact a service member’s job placement and impede the command’s ability to make well-informed deployment and assignment choices," said Pentagon Inspector General Robert Storch in a statement.

The Navy and Marine Corps generally met timeline requirements, according to the Pentagon Inspector General's investigation. The audit began in early 2022, after Storch received complaints regarding the processing of exemption applications.

Sean O'Donnell, Storch's predecessor, reportedly told Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin later in that year that the military was violating federal law by assessing exemption requests generally, instead of on an individual basis.

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In Storch's report, he said that it "found no evidence of a lack of individual review by the decision authorities" even though it said officials have acknowledged drafting template letters that were often used in denying exemption requests and that some servicemembers were not satisfied with the general nature of the letters.

Of the 116 requests analyzed by the inspector general that had received a decision as of June 2022, just 11 were approved – with nine being approved because the member was due for a voluntary discharge or retirement – while the rest were denied. Authorities said the denials came because they found that vaccination was the “least restrictive means” to further compelling military interests, an exception to religious freedom allowed in federal law.

Officials with the branches attributed the problem to the spike in exemption requests after the military imposed a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in 2021. The typical three or four requests skyrocketed into the thousands after the mandate was announced.

Less than 400 religious exemptions approved before mandate was rolled back

As of January 2023, when the mandate was pulled because of a new law, more than 16,200 religious exemption requests had been filed. Just 339 had been approved.

Storch issued several recommendations, including that the military improve how it handles the religious exemption request system. The Pentagon said it would work to improve how it handles religious exemption requests during "high-volume" periods such as pandemics.

The watchdog also went over medical exemption requests and found that officials usually approved those exemptions in line with law and policy. The 79 requests analyzed by the inspector general included 73 that were approved correctly.

The watchdog found that the military failed to maintain adequate supporting medical records in those cases, which included requests for temporary or permanent exemptions, and for 13 administrative exemptions.

Army and Air Force officials said they’re not required to keep records for some medical exemptions. According to Army guidance, officials are supposed to "document appropriately" in cases of temporary medical exemptions, and Air Force guidance directs personnel to use specific medical codes for such cases. But military guidance does not require keeping records for administrative exemptions, the inspector general said.

The watchdog recommended defense officials require keeping documents supporting exemptions. A military official agreed with the recommendation.

Watch this video of podcaster and author Bret Weinstein speaking with military whistleblowers about the adverse costs of military vaccine mandates.

This video is from the TruthParadigm channel on Brighteon.com.

More related stories:

Over 200 servicemembers demand accountability for how COVID-19 vaccine mandates violated their rights.

U.S. servicemen who refused COVID-19 vaccines sue federal government, demand billions of dollars for lost pay.

Former U.S. troops punished for rejecting COVID "vaccination" SUE Biden for billions in lost wages.

U.S. Army now begging UNVAXXED soldiers it once dismissed to return to service.

Vaccine mandate adverse effect: Army falls 25% short of 2022 recruitment goal.

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