A U.S. Army soldier who was fired for refusing a COVID-19 vaccine has been forced to pay back his signing bonus, totaling thousands of dollars.
According to The Daily Wire, the veteran is among the more than 8,400 troops from the military, including some 3,300 Marines, 1,800 soldiers, 1,800 sailors, and 900 airmen who chose to decline the vaccine and be discharged by the Defense Department.
“I’ve deployed multiple times, and I feel like the last thing I had was selling leave days that I earned and was never able to take due to me being deployed or needing that time to prepare for the training cycle,” the service member told Fox News Digital. “I was about to enter a new world with no income, and that extra bit would have been a nice buffer in my rainy day fund to keep me afloat until I was able to find new employment.”
The soldier received a $7,000 bonus when he signed up to serve in the U.S. Army for six years. After he was canned for refusing the vaccine, he was reportedly notified by the U.S. Military that he had to pay back $4,000, a prorated figure of the bonus. The veteran said he was forced to sell 60 of his unused vacation days to make up for the debt.
“The appalling treatment these individuals endured broke the trust that is owed to our citizens and our volunteers. America’s sons and daughters,” the Army member said in a statement. “Until true efforts are made to establish trust, the recruiting and retention shortfalls will only continue. The individuals who make public statements that they are unsure what has contributed to the current recruiting and retention shortfalls need to take a look in the mirror; and perhaps they should resign for the betterment of our Nation.”
Another service member slammed the Department of Defense for falling short “on reestablishing trust for wrongdoings,” calling the signing bonus pay-back “icing on the cake.”
Pentagon officials finally ended the coronavirus vaccine mandate for the U.S. Military in December.
Earlier this year, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin signed a memo that will update records and remove letters of reprimand from troops whose exemption requests for the vaccine were denied.