FIRST ON FOX: Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., sent a letter to three military secretaries Friday demanding answers about the rankings of service members who were discharged after refusing the COVID-19 vaccine in 2021.
Tuberville sent the letter to Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall and Secretary of the Army Christine E. Wormuth just a few days after the trio wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post calling for Tuberville to lift his blockade on military nominations over the Pentagon’s abortion policies.
Tuberville said that although the speedy development of the COVID-19 vaccines were an “impressive scientific feat,” the cooperation “to have these vaccines administered was met with an appropriate level of hesitation by many as test trials were quick, limited, and distributed with relatively no understanding of long-term health complications.”
“It was subsequently discovered that some vaccines were created and tested using cell lines derived from aborted fetal tissue,” Tuberville wrote. “This revelation led to widespread objections of conscience for civilians and service members with genuine religious convictions.”
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., is maintaining a six-month military hold on key leadership nominations.(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
“Despite well-founded apprehension, the Department of Defense (DoD) directed service secretaries to implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all members of the Armed Forces. The result of this directive led to thousands of service members being discharged for COVID-19 vaccination noncompliance, negatively impacting our military readiness, recruitment, and retention.”
Tuberville wants each secretary to provide information about what “staffing mitigation” plan was in place to handle a personnel shortage “due to the hasty COVID-19 vaccine mandate” by Sept. 22.
The Pentagon’s vaccine mandate issued in 2021 ended in February 2023.(Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belgia/AFP via Getty Images)
The letter noted that data shows there have been 8,453 military members — across the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and the Air Force — discharged due to not complying with the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate. The mandate has since been lifted, and the GOP leader also wants data for how many service members who were previously discharged have re-joined.
Tuberville’s letter is another investment in the Republican senator’s pro-life position. The DOD confirmed this week 301 senior military nominations are still in limbo due to Tuberville’s six-month hold over the Pentagon’s abortion policy, which covers some expenses for military personnel seeking to terminate a pregnancy.
The hold “ends when the Biden administration stops their illegal use of taxpayer dollars to facilitate abortion,” Tuberville’s office previously told Fox News Digital. “Coach would lift the hold immediately in such a scenario.”
Jamie Joseph is a writer who covers politics. She leads Fox News Digital coverage of the Senate.