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No otherwise honorable member of the United States military should worry about losing their freedom while protecting ours.

When an American service member breaks the law or military code of conduct in such an egregious way, they get slapped with a dishonorable discharge. They lose access to medical benefits from the VA, they lose access to home loans from the VA, they lose access to the GI bill for further education, they lose their Second Amendment rights and access to ammunition, they lose military funeral honors, they lose the ability to re-enlist in another branch of the military, and they have an extremely difficult time finding employment.


In the civilian world, a dishonorable discharge is equivalent to being convicted of a felony. In fact, it may be the worst checkmark you can get in your life. Unfortunately, thousands of our servicemen and women are about to lose those very freedoms that they have fought so hard to defend as President Joe Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate is threatening them with a dishonorable discharge should they chose to not get the shot.

A full honors procession honoring the centennial anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier takes place at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, in Arlington, Virginia on November 11, 2021.  (Kenny Holston/Pool via REUTERS)

Let me be clear, as a physician and veteran who is confident the vaccine has saved countless lives, I believe vaccinating our servicemembers against COVID-19 is an important effort. However, deep down inside I'm still a rural doctor from Great Bend, Kansas and I believe in the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship, and that every one of our situations is unique.

 A soldier’s clinical history is unique. There are pros and cons and there are risks and benefits of this vaccine. No doubt, each of our soldiers are using common sense, and we must respect their decisions – that includes President Biden.

President Joe Biden waves as he walks to Marine One, to depart for Detroit, Michigan, from the White House on  November 17, 2021.  (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Right now, thousands of our servicemembers are not vaccinated. In fact, in Kansas, only 58 percent of our guardsmen and women are fully or partially vaccinated. Unfortunately, the policy out of the White House says that one size has to fit all and there are no exceptions to its mandate. It refuse to consider natural immunity even though we know natural immunity to COVID is the same as, if not more powerful than the vaccine.

The bottom line is, American heroes should not be treated as felons because of their personal medical choices. President Biden’s vaccine mandate is a slap in the face to so many American heroes who put their lives on the line each day to defend our freedoms and our American way of life.

To protect those that are serving our country, I introduced the COVID-19 Vaccine Dishonorable Discharge Prevention Act, to prohibit the Department of Defense from dishonorably discharging American heroes who choose to not receive a COVID vaccine. 

Senator Marshall's Hosts Press Conference on COVID-19 Vaccine Dishonorable Discharge Prevention Act. (Official U.S. Senate photo by Renee Bouchard)

I also am fighting for this as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).


The vaccine mandate is one of a number of highly important issues for our national security that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has put on hold while the Democrats go back and forth on how to spend taxpayers’ money on their radical agenda instead of finalizing the National Defense Authorization Act. 

The annual defense bill is the only authorizing legislation that the Congress passes every year – 60 years in a row. Considering the foreign policy disasters this White House has created one would think delivering a paycheck to our servicemembers and providing funding to increase our military’s lethality would be top of mind.


I urge Leader Schumer to allow a robust NDAA amendment process that includes a vote on my amendment – our American heroes deserve better than being treated as felons for choosing not to receive the COVID vaccine, and we need to get to my amendment as soon as possible.