What is Service Restoration Act? Rep Chip Roy proposes bill to reinstate troops who refused Covid-19 vaccine
WASHINGTON, DC: Rep Chip Roy, R-Texas, on Friday, January 20, introduced a bill to reinstate troops who were sacked from the military for refusing to take the Covid-19 vaccine. On February 2, last year, the Army announced that it will "immediately begin" discharging soldiers who refuse to take the coronavirus vaccine. The Army had informed that commanders were to initiate "involuntary administrative separation proceedings against any soldier who has refused the Covid-19 vaccination order and does not have an approved or pending exemption request."
In December, last year, President Joe Biden's administration rescinded the Covud-19 vaccine mandate under an $858 billion defense spending bill - the National Defense Authorization Act - passed by Congress and signed into law on December 23, 2022. Earlier this year, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a memo repealing the mandate but fell short of outlining the future course of action for over 8,400 troops, who were booted from the Army due to the mandate.
The new bill, introduced by Roy aims to "establish certain protections for a member of the Armed Forces, or a cadet or midshipman at a military service academy, who refuses to receive a vaccination against Covid-19." It seeks to bring into legislation the Services Restoration Act that Roy had introduced in the House of Representatives on February 8, 2022.
What is the Services Restoration Act?
As per the bill summary, the Services Restoration Act prohibits the use of federal funds to mandate a member of the Armed Forces to receive a Covid-19 vaccination. The bill also prohibits any form of adverse action against any Army personnel for refusing to take the Covid-19 vaccine. Additionally, the Bill proposes that the Armed Forces reinstate all personnel, who were involuntarily discharged solely on the basis of their refusal to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, in the grade they held prior to the separation.
"In computing retired or retainer pay, the military department concerned must include the time between the involuntary separation and reinstatement of the individual. The military department concerned must expunge adverse actions or references to involuntary separation related to the refusal to receive a Covid-19 vaccination from an individual's service record," the bill further stated.
Speaking to the Washington Examiner, Roy said that despite the rescinding of the "Biden administration’s disastrous Covid-19 vaccine mandate" there is "more work to be done." "Republicans must fight to permanently end these mandates and make whole all the service members harmed by President Biden’s senseless policies...I’ve introduced the Service Restoration Act to do just that,” Roy was quoted as saying by the publication.