FILE – COVID-19 vaccine trials

(The Center Square) – Roughly 40,000 National Guard and 22,000 Reserve soldiers who refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccines have been cut off from their military benefits, according to the U.S. Army.

"Soldiers who refuse the vaccination order without an approved or pending exemption request are subject to adverse administrative actions, including flags, bars to service, and official reprimands," an Army spokesperson said in a statement.

As of July 1, this included 13% of the Army Guard and 12% of the Reserve, according to the announcement.

Additionally, none of the 3,000 religious exemption requests filed by those in the Guard and Reserve were granted. Refusal of religious exemption requests is consistent with all branches of service, as reported by Liberty Counsel and the Thomas More Society, who sued on behalf of military members, contractors and civilians whose religious exemption requests were denied.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin argued in his directive issued last August that requiring all active duty members and civilian employees to receive the shots was necessary for military readiness. The mandate came at a time when the U.S. military is already struggling to meet recruitment goals.

Military service members were required to take the vaccine or be discharged, pay back scholarships, education or other training costs, be disciplined or even face court martial.

“Joe Biden’s COVID shot mandate has caused and continues to cause many service members to suffer serious injuries and even death,” Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, told The Center Square. “The abusive and unconscionable pressure on members of the military has resulted in low morale and even suicide. More service members have died in 2021 from the COVID shots than have died from COVID since 2020. Biden’s mandate is undermining military readiness and seriously weakening America.”

Jonathan Hullihan, the lead attorney for Texas for County Citizens Defending Freedom, told The Center Square that the U.S. military “is the best equipped, best trained, most lethal fighting force in the history of the world because of the all-volunteer force that fill the ranks. Across all branches, military recruitment and retention rates are falling to historic lows and threatening the all-volunteer force and the ability of the United States to respond to threats around the world.”

Because National Guard and reserve personnel supplement active-duty forces in times of national emergencies, he argues, forcing 60,000 out of the Army “will directly threaten the national security of the United States with training and operational readiness.” It also will lead to “short- and long-term damage” to the U.S.’s ability to respond to global threats, he said.

Hullihan, who served as a Navy JAG officer for over 13 years, is calling on Congress to intervene.

“We are losing many of our best warriors with real combat and leadership experience from the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters of war, which cannot be replaced. If military leadership fails to portray a candid and accurate threat to the Biden Administration that these actions directly threaten the United States National Security, Congress must intervene," he said.

In response to Military.com stating that the COVID-19 “vaccines have some rare side effects, including heart inflammation that has affected at least 22 service members, according to a study from the JAMA Network,” an attorney working with U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, and whistle blowers in the U.S. military are pushing back against the vaccine mandates.

Attorney Thomas Renz, who participated in a Jan. 24 roundtable with Johnson, has shared “damaging evidence” about the “danger of these alleged vaccines.”

One whistle blower represented by Renz, Lt. Col. Pete Chambers, told The Center Square in an exclusive interview in February that after 39 years of service, he was being forced out of the Texas Army National Guard for his commitment to providing informed consent about the required shots. Chambers, the first Special Forces Operations Surgeon for the Green Berets, has raised concerns about the range of side effects, including myocarditis.

Renz published DMED data identifying the most common increases in diagnoses among service members after receiving the shots including a 2,181% increase in hypertension, a 1,048% increase in diseases of the nervous system, 894% increase in malignant neoplasms of the esophagus, 680% increase in Multiple Sclerosis, 551% increase in Guillain-Barre syndrome, among many others.

The Department of Defense didn’t respond to questions raised by Johnson, instead responding to Politico by saying the data Renz posted was a glitch.

Renz is demanding transparency from the federal government and has published a range of data available for free on his website.

He asks if the DMED data he initially published was “legitimately incorrect then why has the DoD not gone on record under oath? Why have they not offered a legitimate answer to Senator Ron Johnson's numerous inquiries?” he told The Center Square.

He also says his team has “seen further evidence of DoD data manipulation in the form of altering past MSMR reports without explanation. The continued coverup and unwillingness to submit any explanation under oath where cross examination is possible demonstrate what can only be called the largest coverup in American military history.”

Worse still, he argues, the 60,000 being pushed out of the Army represents only a fraction of the total number.

“The real number, according to military data, is far higher,” he said. “We reported some time ago that, according to a leaked document we received from a military whistleblower … the real number … not fully vaccinated, as of Jan 12, 2022, totaled over 500,000 or nearly 25% of our military (approximately 440,000 were reservists). Does the Biden Pentagon plan to kick out a quarter of our military while recruitment levels are a disaster or do they really expect us to believe that 440,000-plus soldiers just decided to comply since that date?”

When asked about responding to Johnson’s questions, the Pentagon told The Center Square it would “respond to the author of the letter.”

It didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about total numbers of those in the military being forced out.