Pentagon in ‘Potential Noncompliance’ With Law in Denying Religious Exemption Requests to Vaccine Mandate: Leaked Memo

todaySeptember 14, 2022

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The Division of Protection (DoD) has been in “potential noncompliance” with requirements for reviewing and speaking denials of non secular lodging requests to the vaccine mandate, the Pentagon’s watchdog wrote to the secretary of protection in a June memo obtained by The Epoch Instances.

The June 2 memo by Appearing Inspector Normal (IG) Sean W. O’Donnell said that after reviewing dozens of complaints from service members who have been denied non secular lodging, the IG’s workplace “discovered a development of generalized assessments reasonably than the individualized evaluation that’s required by Federal regulation and DoD and Navy Service insurance policies.”

The aim of the memo was to tell the secretary of protection of “potential noncompliance with requirements for reviewing and documenting the denial of non secular lodging requests of Service members recognized via complaints submitted to the [IG’s] workplace.”

“The denial memorandums we reviewed typically didn’t mirror an individualized evaluation, demonstrating that the Senior Navy Official thought of the complete vary of information and circumstances related to the actual non secular lodging request,” the memo said.

The memo supplied an instance of such cursory remedy. An Air Pressure basic used a one-sentence assertion to disclaim an Airman’s request: “I disapprove your request for exemption from vaccinations underneath the provisions of AFI 48-110, paragraph 2-6.b.3.”

The appearing IG additionally famous that the amount and price of denial choices have been “regarding.”

A mean of fifty denials per day have been processed over a 90-day interval, in keeping with the memo.

“Assuming a 10-hour work day with no breaks or consideration to different issues, the typical overview interval was about 12 minutes for every bundle,” it said.

“Such a overview interval appears inadequate to course of every request in an individualized method and nonetheless carry out the duties required for his or her place,” the memo continued.

The appearing IG drew consideration to DoD Instruction 1300.17 “Spiritual Liberty within the Navy Companies.” Paragraph 3.2.d, which was extracted in a footnote of the memo, states that “officers charged with making suggestions or taking closing motion on a Service member’s request for the lodging of non secular practices will overview every request individually, contemplating the complete vary of information and circumstances related to the particular request … The means that’s least restrictive to the requestor’s non secular observe and that doesn’t impede a compelling governmental curiosity will likely be determinative.” [Emphasis added in the memo]

The memo was acquired by Secretary of Protection Llyod Austin, who in a Sept. 2 memo, additionally obtained by The Epoch Instances, referred the matter to the undersecretary of protection for personnel and readiness “for acceptable motion, in coordination with the Secretaries of the Navy Departments and the DoD Workplace of Normal Counsel, as essential and acceptable.”

“Uniform requirements should be utilized to all requests for medical or administrative exemption in a fashion per regulation and DoD coverage, together with DoD Instruction 6205.02, “DoD Immunization Program,” and DoD Instruction 1300.17, “Spiritual Liberty within the Navy Companies,” the Sept. 2 memo signed by Austin said.

When contacted by The Epoch Instances in regards to the June memo, the IG’s Workplace stated, “The memorandum in query is Managed Unclassified Info and won’t be launched presently.” It didn’t dispute the authenticity of the doc.

To this point, the mixed providers have separated a minimum of 7,476 service members over the vaccine mandate, in keeping with the latest publicly-released figures.

As of July 11, the Air Pressure had authorized 104 non secular exemptions and has administratively separated 834 service members for refusing the vaccine mandate; As of Sep. 8, the Marine Corps had authorized (pdf) 14 non secular exemptions and separated 3,436; As of Aug. 24, the Navy had authorized 46 non secular exemptions and separated 1,533 individuals; As of Sept. 1, the Military had authorized 32 non secular exemptions, with 1,673 separations.

‘Unethical Habits’

Military Chief Warrant Officer Danny Erickson (a pseudonym) found the IG memo via a fellow member of the army earlier this week, and posted extracts of the memo on his private web site that he created to be a voice for service members who proceed to battle in opposition to the army’s vaccine mandate.

Erickson, an active-duty service member for over 20 years and whistleblower, spoke to The Epoch Instances utilizing a pseudonym, fearing reprisals.

The officer’s web site supplies over two dozen examples of Air Pressure and Navy non secular lodging request denial letters despatched to service members. “Air Pressure denials are virtually an identical whereas Navy denials are a precise match,” he stated. “For the final 12 months, I’ve seen a whole bunch of different letters with placing similarities.”

Based on Erickson, “these an identical letters expose a stage of corruption or unethical conduct inside chains of command and management.”

“They’re clearly not taking a look at particular person circumstances contemplating the complete vary of information and circumstances related to particular requests for non secular lodging,” he stated, referring to the necessities underneath DoD Instruction 1300.17 “Spiritual Liberty within the Navy Companies.”

“They’re blanket denying any the non secular lodging, and it’s taking place on the highest ranges,” he stated.

“The DoD has flat out, undeniably, damaged the regulation regarding non secular liberty and the [secretary of defense] is absolutely conscious of it, due to the memo dated June 2.” What’s extra, he alleged, the secretary has carried out nothing to handle the appearing IG’s warning.

A Widespread Theme Warrants Investigation

The Epoch Instances additionally spoke to Navy Commander Robert A. Inexperienced Jr., who was relieved from his place as an govt officer of one of many seven Maritime Expeditionary Safety Squadrons inside Navy Expeditionary Fight Command on Jan. 7.

“I supplied proof that the Navy was violating federal regulation and army regulation in how they adjudicated the standardized pre-determined denials of non secular lodging requests,” Inexperienced stated. He was relieved of his duties as an govt officer solely 4 days after this proof was used as the premise for a preliminary injunction granted to Navy SEALs by a federal court docket, he stated.

“In December 2021, I filed an inner Navy grievance in opposition to Vice Admiral John Nowell who was the Chief of Naval Personnel and the individual designated by the Navy to adjudicate all non secular lodging requests for COVID-19 merchandise,” Inexperienced stated.

Inexperienced’s grievance pointed to Vice Admiral Nowell’s utilization of a Customary Working Process (SOP) which “streamlined the method” his workers would take to disclaim all non secular lodging requests. Inexperienced famous that “one of many very first steps within the course of, as soon as they acquired a request, was to stick the requestor’s title into the denial template after which route the denial for overview.”

“It wasn’t till one of many final steps of the method, {that a} staffer was lastly directed to truly open the request,” he stated.

His grievance was formally dismissed in August. A letter from the Workplace of the Naval Inspector Normal stated his grievance was “reviewed and evaluated” and decided to “not warrant an investigation” as a result of inadequate proof.

“That is stunning as a result of the Navy’s response got here two months after the [IG’s] memo to the Secretary of Protection,” Inexperienced stated. “Claiming that they may discover no proof ought to have been inconceivable, contemplating a higher-level inspector basic had already discovered that blanket denials of non secular lodging have been being given to service members.”

“Even Decide O’Connor from the Navy SEAL case within the [District Court for the] Northern District of Texas famous the proof in his ruling granting a classwide injunction for the Navy,” Inexperienced famous.

In that March ruling, Decide O’Connor said that “[t]he proof overwhelmingly signifies that class members’ [religious accommodation] requests and appeals will likely be summarily denied with ‘boilerplate’ language and ‘simplistic’ evaluation.”

Each Erickson and Inexperienced allege that the DoD has violated federal rules of the Spiritual Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and DoD Instruction 1300.17 with the continued use of “blanket denials” of non secular lodging.

“Congress needs to be compelled to research these crimes instantly,” Erickson stated. “The [IG’s] memo to the [secretary of defense] can’t be ignored.”

Erickson and Inexperienced emphasised that their views don’t mirror these of the Division of Protection or the Division of the Military or the Division of the Navy.

The DoD and Workplace of the Naval Inspector Normal didn’t reply to The Epoch Instances for remark.

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report. 

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J.M. Phelps is a author and researcher of each Islamist and Chinese language threats.

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Written by: soft fm radio staff

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