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Ernst Supports Religious Liberty Protections, Halting Military Vaccine Requirement as Army Falls 20,000 Short of Recruiting Goals

The Iowa senator is a combat veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

WASHINGTON – As the U.S. military continues to face low recruitment numbers, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a combat veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined her Senate Republican colleagues in an effort to ensure military readiness by limiting separations based on COVID-19 vaccination status.

The Preserving the Readiness of Our Armed Forces Act restricts active-duty or reserve servicemembers from being involuntarily separated from the military based solely on COVID-19 vaccination status, until the services hit their target readiness goals. It also ensures continued pay and benefits for servicemembers while religious and health appeals are pending.

“With record-low recruitment across all service branches, shrinking the number of servicemembers puts our national security at risk,” said Ernst, the first female combat veteran elected to the Senate. “This commonsense effort protects our troops from being fired due to Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate at the cost of harm to service readiness or without fair appeal.”

In September, the Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimonies on the status of the current recruitment environment and retention strategies to combat the recruitment levels among the nation’s branches of service, citing various hurdles to target readiness goals.

Read full text of the bill here.