Monday, February 12, 2024

Some Service Members Say They Were ‘Coerced’ Into Taking COVID-19 Vaccine: Survey

Some Service Members Say They Were ‘Coerced’ Into Taking COVID-19 Vaccine: Survey 

In an independent survey conducted by the author last fall, 229 individuals currently serving in the U.S. military voluntarily participated by responding to a multitude of questions. Results helped to reveal the difficulties faced by some members of the U.S. Armed Forces who were confronted by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s August 2021 military vaccine mandate.

Part of the anonymous questionnaire addressed the COVID-19 vaccine status of the participating service member, various details about the now-rescinded military vaccine mandate, as well as the deliberate coercion faced by many who opposed it.

All branches of the military as well as enlisted and officer ranks responded to the survey. Survey participants served in the military for an average of about 16 years.

Out of the 229 participants, 169 were active duty service members. Eighty-seven percent, or 199, were unvaccinated against COVID-19. Of the 30 who were vaccinated, only two said they had wanted to do it.

Twenty out of 30 individuals who admitted taking the vaccine claim they were injured by the vaccine. Ninety-three percent of the participants said they know someone they believe has been injured by the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Epoch Times spoke to two of the survey’s participants who used a pseudonym out of concern about reprisals. Both emphasized that their views don’t reflect those of the Department of Defense, or the Department of the Army and Department of the Air Force, respectively.


Officer Alvin Johnson (a pseudonym) is a 20-year combat veteran of the Army with multiple deployments around the world. He opposed the COVID-19 vaccine that was once-mandated by the Department of Defense (DOD) in August 2021.

“I’m not a lab rat and neither are the people I work with,” he told The Epoch Times.

Officer Johnson was one of the 227 participants who believe the COVID-19 vaccine should not have been mandated. Approximately 95 percent said the mandate was unlawful.

“While holding out [from taking the vaccine], I was forced to wear a mask and was often singled out for being unvaccinated,” Officer Johnson said. Bringing these concerns to his command, “I was simply told: ‘I don’t make the rules.’” Threats that would negatively impact his personal life and career soon followed.

Without the vaccine, Officer Johnson would have been prohibited from coming home to see my family. At the time, his wife was at risk of a serious medical concern that could require his presence at a moment’s notice. “You can see I had no choice but to take the shot,” he said. “At the same time I would be prevented from being my wife, my orders to deploy were also being threatened.”

Like Officer Johnson, over 72 percent of survey participants also said they were “coerced” into receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and/or boosters. Nearly 95 percent of those who objected to the vaccine said they faced reprisals, including verbal threats of punitive legal action, loss of promotion, and exclusion from career enhancing schools.

Officer Johnson reluctantly took the first round of the COVID-19 vaccine at a local pharmacy chain store.

After the August 2021 mandate was rescinded in January 2023, and having received the vaccine, Officer Johnson still faced roadblocks to his career advancement. “With a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand (GOMOR) in my record for initially refusing the vaccine, I was not promoted to a higher rank,” he said.

“Even though I have since taken the vaccine, I’m losing month income and hundreds of thousands of dollars over my lifetime in retirement pay for not being able to promote.” Almost half of the participants in the survey said they were also “financially harmed by non-compliance with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.”

Officer Johnson said he knows others in a similar predicament, including some who were forced to retire or separate from the Army long before finishing their career. Nearly 90 percent of the survey’s participants said they know someone who was separated or forced to leave military service because of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“Like many of them, I’ve been shot at and deployed [to a combat zone] by an organization that turned on me, and that has caused quite a bit of emotional and psychological trauma,” he said. “Having spent my adult life in service to my country, my experience has been absolutely destructive to my morale and physical well-being.”

Calls For Accountability

Master Sergeant Asher Grove (a pseudonym) has served in the Air Force for nearly 20 years. While investigating the COVID-19 vaccine, he said adverse risks that might have been associated with the drug were never made available to service members.

According to the survey, only three percent were informed by qualified medical personnel of known risks associated with the COVID-19 vaccine, including damage to reproductive health for females and increased risk of heart disease.

With past immunizations, he was given “a fact sheet,” he said. With a pre-existing health concern and guidance from God, he was adamantly opposed to the COVID-19 vaccine.

With the denial of both religious accommodation and medical exemption requests, Master Sgt. Grove said he was “slapped with a letter of reprimand.” According to him, “this was the only real coercion I faced, that I’d get continue to get in trouble for taking objection to the vaccine.”

Ultimately, it was an appeals court in Ohio that upheld an injunction to protect members of the Air Force from being punished for refusing the vaccine that prevented him from having any further negative impact to his career. Sadly, he said, many other service members were forced to retire or separate prior to the injunction.

“DOD leaders should be held accountable in the manner [the mandate] was enforced,” he said. All 229 participants of the survey agreed to this proposition.

“Trust in leadership suffered greatly when people were forced to do something they should have never been forced to do,” he said.

“Having witnessed so many people oppose the vaccine for religious concern and more, I was able to witness the greatest battle I’ve seen in my life,” Master Sgt. Grove said. “It wasn’t a battle fought on a foreign field, but it was a battle against good and evil in our own country.”

For him, the rescission of the vaccine mandate in January 2023 was “a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done so this never happens again.”

The Department of Defense, Department of the Army, and Department of the Air Force didn’t respond by press time to requests by The Epoch Times for comment

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