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I asked an active-duty Marine his thoughts on the military’s vaccine mandate

By John Sullivan 

Late in August, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a memo mandating the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for all members of the armed forces. This was a little covered blip in the new cycle as all of us knew the vaccine would be mandated for service members. Unfortunately, this let something disgusting slip beneath the radar of the common people.  

The administration isn’t offering the soldier’s that refuse the opportunity to receive an honorable discharge. Instead of giving them the option to leave the service at the rank they hold and collect whatever benefits they earned through their years of dedication, they’re instead threatened with court martial. Their retirements, medical benefits, college funds, and reputations are used to coerce them. 

Now of course there will be detractors who immediately say things like, “the vaccine is perfectly safe, so who cares about their loss.” We hear such comments currently regarding the private sector vaccine mandate that the administration is pushing. This is the viewpoint of someone naive to the history of the United States government. 

For decades, the United States military conducted experiments on their own soldiers. With many subjects being chosen based on race, their lives were viewed as expendable for the greater good of their fellow soldiers. Some men found themselves being purposefully exposed to mustard gas

Gas wasn’t the only test being run on these soldiers though. Many found themselves being injected haphazardly with unknown agents, before being immediately given a cure. Tens of thousands of soldiers have sought restitution for damages to their health by these experiments. 

Meanwhile, in the civilian sector, the United States government has an infamous history of performing tests on unknowing minorities. Obviously, the Tuskegee syphilis studies come to mind. 

But what some might be unaware of is the United States government’s involvement in spreading contagious diseases in foreign nations. From 1946-1948, the United States government deliberately infected over twelve hundred Guatemalans with syphilis to spread the disease and record the effects certain medications had on it. All done without the consent of the test subjects. 

With these things considered, is it any wonder why some soldiers are hesitant to take a medication rushed through clinical trials? A medication where the manufacturer is exempt from legal retaliation? I’m sure you’ve all seen the 3m ear plug commercials. Imagine if that company was exempt from legal retaliation for a product that service members are forced to use by their chain of command. 

Now imagine for a moment that your boss ordered you to use an item manufactured by a company with the largest criminal fraud fine in the history of the United States. Then imagine that when you refused to use this item, your boss called the police on you. The police then arrested you. 

Now I want you to picture your pension, college fund, savings, healthcare package, social security etc., stripped from you because of that arrest.  

That is a reality that far too many soldiers currently face. I recently sat down with a marine facing such dilemmas. The following transcript is from my interview with an active-duty marine whose identity will remain anonymous for their own protection. The abbreviation AM will be used for Anonymous Marine. 


John Sullivan: So, let’s start first with the reason you joined the Marine Corps. 

AM: I’ve gotten this question so many times throughout my time serving, but what it comes down to is I wanted to serve my country in the best capacity. I’ve learned that to protect the rights of others, some of my own had to be sacrificed. 

Now you just said some of your own rights had to be sacrificed in order to protect others. Where do you draw the line on surrendering your rights for the sake of your fellow Americans? 

By joining the armed forces, I’m saying that I would be willing to go abroad, fight and die for this country. However, having this vaccine made mandatory and having Americans choose between their careers and having a choice on what to put in their bodies, I can’t support that. 

So, for you, it is the violation of bodily autonomy that you find to be unconstitutional. Like how it would be unconstitutional for the military to require a female soldier abort their child, or vice versa demand that they carry the child to term? 

To a certain degree, yes. It seems that the main argument for the vaccine is that “military personnel have been receiving other shots so what is the difference?” The difference is that if someone feels that this isn’t the best thing for them health wise, they should be able to make the best choice for themselves and not be penalized for it. 

Does Pfizer, and Moderna’s immunity by the federal government contribute to this concern? I’m sure if an officer ordered you to take penicillin, a well-known, well documented medication, it wouldn’t be an issue. 

That definitely plays a part in it. The fact that the expectation is to blindly follow “lawful” orders isn’t right. Scare tactics and threats are the backup for the order instead of a legitimate concern for the health of the men and women who serve our country. 

You’re in your mid-twenties, and as a black man heart health is obviously a statistical concern for you. With two of the noted side effects of the vaccine being myocarditis and pericarditis, do you feel it is safe to say your concerns for your own health are well founded? 

They are. If the vaccine is for the health and safety of military members and civilians alike, why aren’t these concerns with side effects taken on the same level as the plan to get everyone vaccinated no matter what the outcome?  

You’re saying that if this was genuinely about your health, then the concerns for the side effects would be taken as seriously as they are with other optional medications? 

I’m not speaking on the intentions of the military, but logic would lead one to believe that if the members are the greatest asset to the force, all precautions should be taken to protect them from medical complications that are also an issue to consider. 

What type of ramifications are you facing for your decision to refuse the vaccine? 

The consequences for making this choice have been slightly varied depending on who I’ve talked to. The common themes I’m noticing are NJP (Non-judicial Punishment), which could result in a loss of rank and pay, administrative separation, and renders the recipient ineligible for education benefits after separation. 

I’ve been told there’s even the chance for Court Martial, which can result in time in the brig (military prison) and in this case it is a felony which must be disclosed whenever applying for a job, loan, etc. Whether or not these are scare tactics or legitimate threats makes very little difference to me because I believe I’m on the right side of this battle. 

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. 


As mentioned in the interview above, the companies manufacturing the Covid-19 vaccines are immune from lawsuits over the vaccine’s side effects. 

Some of these side effects include swelling of the heart muscle known as myocarditis as well as swelling of the lining of the heart, pericarditis. Both of which have been documented by the CDC

With serious side effects that pose a risk to heart health, how can the military in good conscience dishonorably discharge young soldiers concerned over this potential side effect? Will we see a drastic increase in heart disease moving forward because of these mandates? And how will this impact military readiness? 

These are all questions the current administration will have to face sooner rather than later.

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John Sullivan

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